Emad Motab has come a long way since his wonder goal downed England at the FIFA World Youth Championship UAE 2003. That strike, a run combining pace, determination and a cold blooded finish, brought the young striker instant worldwide recognition.

Since then, he has only gone from strength-to-strength, burying goals left, right and centre, forcing his way into the national team and spearheading Al Ahly's climb to the heights of African success. Now Motab is back at another FIFA competition, this time with his club, and whoever the opponent, Al Ittihad, Sao Paulo or Liverpool, the itch to shoot them down still lingers.

"It's great to score goals in any FIFA competition," he smiles, remembering that day in Dubai. "I played in the youth championship in the Emirates and it was very special. I'm looking forward to Japan because I'm sure it will be just as much fun.

"But my priority is the team. I'll do my best to help them develop during the competition and if I'm able to score that would be great. The most important thing is that we appear in Yokohama on the 18th for the final."

Winning the Egyptian league last season, the African Champions League last month and beginning the new campaign with 10 straight wins, Ahly have walked over their adversaries in the past 16 months. Motab, though, denies it has been easy. 

"We've had some really tough times especially in our away match against Raja Casablanca in Morocco, where we snatched an equaliser in injury time," he says. "I think it is all about our confidence and our ability to keep calm in tough moments."

The long and winning road
A new record of 55 matches without defeat has been registered as the Cairo giants get set for the tournament to decide who will become the champion of champions.

"I think we've gone quite a long road since our coach Manuel Jose started to rebuild this team two years ago," Motab continues. "Most of the players have gained enough experience since then to allow them to compete at the highest level."

Ahly's first match, a quarter-final clash, is against Arab neighbours and Asian champions Al Ittihad. For many observers, it could well be the most exciting game of the competition and Motab's duel with new AFC Player of the Year Hamad El Montashai will be pivotal.

"I understand we are playing against the best in the world," he says ignoring any direct reference to Ahly's opponents. "But we also have one of the best attacking lines in Africa so it will be an interesting contest."

With a reputation for grabbing winning goals on the biggest occasions, Motab could be a name on the lips of millions more football followers come Sunday night.