Sydney FC clinched fifth spot in the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005 after a 2-1 win over Egypt's Al Ahly at Tokyo's National stadium on Friday. David Carney got the winner in the 66th minute after Emad Motab had cancelled out Dwight Yorke's opener.
"Unfortunately one team has to lose," said Sydney coach Pierre Littbarski generously later. "Ahly played some beautiful football and we were a bit lucky to win. But I've been a long time in the game to know it's the result that counts."
"This just wasn't our tournament," Ahly coach Manuel Jose told reporters. "The first game spoiled things for us but today we played the football we are known for. We made two mistakes, they scored two goals and we wasted lots of chances at the start of each half."
Jose sprang a surprise in the line-up, leaving out first choice goalkeeper and captain Essam El Hadary and bringing in Nader El Sayed. Fired up following their disappointing performance against Al Ittihad in the quarter-finals, the Red Devils began the match at breakneck pace.
Left-back Mohamed Abdel Wahab had their first good chance on eight minutes, cutting in well from the left but then shooting wide with his right foot. Two minutes later Mohamed Barakat fed Osama Hosni, skipper for the night, but his shot was too close to Clint Bolton in the Sydney goal.
Barakat had begun lively and a one-two sent him racing down the right. The Egyptian international fired across goal and Iain Fyfe, not knowing much about it, diverted the ball into the side netting. Two more minutes on and Motab, found by Barakat, had Bolton fingertipping over with a powerful header. Ten minutes later the same two combined with the Ahly striker sending his effort just over.
Local boy Kazu Miura had hardly had a kick up until then but he brought probably the loudest cheer of the night on 27 minutes when he back flicked for Matt Bingley. The Australian centred well but Sasho Petrovski couldn't direct his header. The bulky striker had another chance but again he failed to get enough meat on the ball.
A minute later though he was shown exactly how to do it. Steve Corica whipped in the free kick and Yorke, on the edge of the six-yard box, placed a textbook downward header into the corner (0-1, '35)
Taking confidence from the goal, the Australians began to spray passes around with Yorke, shining in midfield, playing a focal role.
But just a minute before the German could get his players back in the changing room, Sydney were caught out on the break. A fine pass from Hossam Ashour sent Motab racing through and the Egyptian striker rounded Bolton and slotted home for Ahly's first goal of the tournament (1-1, '45).
A minute after the restart, Motab almost repeated the action but took one touch too heavy and the chance was gone. On 54, Barakat, playing more centrally, again broke Sydney's back four but overran the ball. Ahly were well on top now and twice Mohamed Aboutrika came close. First, he crossed dangerously across the face of goal, then had a scrambled shot deflected wide.
But just as Ahly had done in the first half, Sydney scored against the run of play. Petrovski played a fine pass and David Carney broke the offside trap before burying left-footed (1-2, '66).
The African champions almost equalised immediately. Motab, again stretching, headed over after a fine flowing move. The Cairo club pressed and Mohamed Shawky should have got the goal with 12 minutes to go but blasted over from eight yards. Barakat then forced Bolton into a fine save with time ticking down. A disappointed Ahly return to Egypt empty handed, while the Sydney team, lifting king Kazu on their shoulders for a lap of honour at the end, go back as heroes.
"I'd like to say thank you to Kazu," said Littbarski, who, because of a mix up with numbers, almost took the Japanese striker off with three minutes to go.
"I'd never take Kazu out of Japan," he continued before it was revealed that the 38-year-old, who will return to play for Yokohama FC, would become Sydney's ambassador in Japan. "I wanted to work with him just once in my life."
And the German was equally happy with Yorke's performance.
"Dwight's the heart of our team," Littbarski said of the Tobagan international. "He's so important now he's playing in central midfield. He's become our leader and is motivating the others to perform."
Ahly's Jose, who had led his team to a 55-match unbeaten streak before the two losses in Japan, praised his players.
"We could have scored four or five but in the end we scored just one - but that's football! I'm happy with my players. Now we have to concentrate on the Egyptian league and the Cup. It's the one trophy I haven't won."
And Littbarski joined in the good spirit.
"It's been a well organised tournament," he finished. "We've felt very comfortable. It's the same feeling as a World Cup."