Courtesy of Auckland City FC

Al Ahly has defeated Auckland City FC 3-0 in the opening game of the FIFA Club World Cup in Tangier today.

The match was Auckland City FC’s 16th tie in the FIFA Club World Cup in the tenth appearance in the competition. It also marked captain Cam Howieson’s 150th game for the club while Emiliano Tade became the only player in history to appear at eight tournaments.

Al Ahly came into the match unbeaten and soon gave City plenty to think about coming out of the blocks at a fast and unrelenting pace.

The Egyptians scored their first goal against the Oceania champions in additional time at the end of the first half, with midfielder Hussein El Shahat giving his team the lead.

It was cruel blow for City after they played some incisive football and matched Al Ahly with some strong defending from the likes of Michael Den Heijer, Nikko Boxall and Adam Mitchell.

City came out in the second half searching for a way back into the game but were soon trailing by two when Mohamed Sherif grabbed Al Ahly’s second goal in the 56th minute.

Al Ahly’s Percy Tau scored a third goal for his team in the 89th minute and City were reduced to ten players when Mitchell was sent off five minutes into additional time.

Al Ahly now advance to the quarter finals where they meet Major League Soccer outfit Seattle Sounders on February 4.

Coach Albert Riera was proud of the performance of his team despite the result and laid down some hard realities about competing at this level.

“Al Ahly are leading the Egyptian league and are unbeaten in 16 games and have won the Egyptian Super Cup and are in the final of another competition.

“If we look at the first 50 minutes of the game then we have to be proud of our performance. We’re in our pre-season and so you could see the speed and sharpness of their team.

“That’s what it takes to be professional in football while we are not, we train three times a week in New Zealand and this is the reality.

“We’re two months away from the start of our own domestic competition and two months since last season ended for us.

“Our adversity in this game tonight was fitness. We faced a team that is half way through their season and that counted for a lot.

“I thought our first half performance was very good but they got the goal they needed with a shot from outside the box which was hard to stop.

“We were fatigued and tired and then had to chase the game and things go against you against a very good team like Al Ahly and gaps appear.

“I’m hoping my players don’t have regrets. I wish they could play in front of crowds this big every week

“We have a strong heart and strong minds and we’ll use this as an opportunity to learn and grow,” he said.

AL AHLY 3 (Hussein EL SHAHAT 45’+2′, Mohamed SHERIF 56′, Tau PERCY 86′)
HT: 1-0