Without several players who will play the final of CAF Africa Cup of Nations tomorrow, Egyptian giants Al Ahly edged Mexico's CF Monterrey to book the Reds a meeting with Palmeiras in the Abu Dhabi-hosted FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals for the second year running.
The Al Nahyan Stadium was painted red by over 9,000 fanatic Al Ahly followers. They were roaring from the off, but shortly into the second half the decibel levels were deafening. Mohamed Hany employed immaculate technique to fizz a volley home and break the deadlock. Some could hear the noise it created in Cairo!! FIFA's controversial scheduling clash with Sunday's Afcon final between Egypt and Senegal in Yaounde meant Ahly had to play their first match of the Club World Cup missing six big players. Bafana Bafana star Percy Tau also was ruled out through injury.
The final whistle was met with inimitable ecstasy by the Ahly players. Several dropped to the turf to pray, others jumped uncontrollably and Rabia ran to the supporters and pounded his fist into his chest after being named man of the match.
While Al Ahli will play with the Brazilian giants on Tuesday, the other pair will be London’s Chelsea and the winner of the meeting between the hosts Al-Jazeera and Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal which will take place on Sunday.
Against Palmeiras, Ahly will have their stars back. However, they will be battling the tough competition at the Afcon that saw Egypt play to extra time in all three matches of their last-16 win against Ivory Coast, quarterfinal win against Morocco and semifinal victory against hosts Cameroon.
Al Ahly played their 16th game at the tournament tonight, taking the outright record for most matches played they had shared with Auckland City. Reaching the final, most likely against Chelsea, would make the Red Devils just the second African finalists at the Club World Cup since TP Mazembe of Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010.