Though familiar faces at the FIFA Club World Cup with extensive experience in the competition, Al-Ahly SC and CF Monterrey were unable to negotiate the quarter-finals at Morocco 2013. With their last-eight defeats spelling the end of an era for both sides, the Red Devils and Los Rayados go into this match for fifth place aware that it will be their last on the big stage for some time.
Al-Ahly-CF Monterrey, Marrakech Stadium, Wednesday 18 December, 16:30 (local time)
Playing in the competition for a fifth time, the Egyptians were hoping to improve on their third place in 2006. Defeat to Guangzhou Evergrande FC ended that notion and forced them to revise their ambitions downwards. Those ambitions now involve securing fifth place and giving the legendary Mohamed Aboutrika something to remember as his fabled career comes to an end. The midfielder, not a certain starter for this game, had delayed his retirement to take part in the competition. And with the Egyptian league still suspended and other stalwarts such as Wael Gomaa, Sherif Ekramy, Sherif Abdelfadeel, Emad Meteab and Mohamed Naguib all now the wrong side of 30, it is hard to see what the future holds for the Cairo giants.
Monterrey do not have much to cheer about either on their third consecutive appearance in the competition. Having failed to defend their league title, Los Rayados will not have the chance to win their fourth CONCACAF Champions League in a row, which means they will sit out next year’s FIFA Club World Cup. In the process they will have more than enough time to digest their quarter-final loss to Raja Casablanca and set about the task of regaining the relentless form they showed before Victor Manuel Vucetich handed coaching duties over to his successor Jose Guadalupe Cruz. “It’s the end of an era, and the time’s come for us to go out and pen another chapter,” said their Argentinian forward Cesar Delgado, hoping no doubt for one last win in the global showpiece.
18 - The number of survivors on both sides from their meeting in the match for third place at Japan 2012, seven of them running out for Monterrey and 11 for Al-Ahly. The Mexicans won 2-0, with Cesar Delgado getting one of the goals.
"The match against Monterrey is not easy as some might imagine. There can only be one winner and the difficulty of the match lies in the fact that it comes after a disappointing defeat against Guangzhou. The match is not just a duty. It's really important for us. We want to break the jinx that we have in the fifth place play-off match in the Club World Cup as we previously played twice for this position and we lost. We want to prove to the world that we are a strong team and we deserve to win,” Al Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef.
“We’re approaching for the Al-Ahly game in the same way that we played Raja. African and Arab teams always play with a lot of energy and motivation. We’ll be doing all we can to score early, beat Al-Ahly and take fifth place,” CF Monterrey coach Jose Guadalupe Cruz.