By Sports Reporter/Doha
Palmeiras were touted to be the biggest threat to Bayern Munich at the FIFA Club World Cup title, but the Brazilians at best can only finish third in the tournament.
The newly-crowned Copa Libertadores champions came to Qatar on a high, aiming to become only the fourth Brazilian club to win the title. But after a 0-1 loss to Mexico’s Tigres in the semi-finals, Palmeiras now take on African champions Al Ahly in the play-off for third place at the Education City Stadium, which will kick off at 6pm.
After their loss to Tigres, Palmeiras coach Abel Ferreira and his men came for criticism back home and will be determined to finish on a high note with a bronze medal on their tournament debut. “I have always been taught that it is better to stay ahead than behind. We will fight for third place. It was not what we wanted, but it is what we will fight for,” Ferreira said yesterday.
The Portuguese coach hinted that he would ring in changes to the XI, which looked quite ordinary in the semi-finals. Ferreira felt that the match against Al Ahly would be balanced.
“Al Ahly are the second team with the most appearances in the World Cup. They are a team that has players with a lot of technical quality. Both teams play purposeful football and want to take control of the game. Against Al Ahly, it’s an opportunity for us to show our way of playing, the Brazilian way,” the Palmeiras coach said.
Al Ahly will be aiming to replicate their third-place finish at the 2006 Club World Cup in Japan. The Red Devils, despite a spirited show, were unable to win against Bayern in the semi-finals. But if they can repeat that performance against Palmeiras today, the Egyptians will walk away with the bronze medal.
Ahly’s manager Pitso Mosimane said: “We represented Africa very well in the FIFA Club World Cup. We managed to qualify to the semi-finals and we will be playing tomorrow in order to win the bronze medal. We managed to beat Al Duhail and we played very well against FC Bayern Munich.”
Ahly will be without midfielder Hussein Elshahat and winger Mahmoud Kahraba against Palmeiras after the two players were removed from the team’s squad for breaching coronavirus regulations by greeting someone outside of the team’s medical bubble. Elshahat and Kahraba both shook hands with former Egyptian football star Mohamed Aboutrika after the game against Bayern on Monday.
“I believe what happened from Mahmoud Kahraba and Hussein Elshahaat wasn’t intentional. I hoped that they would be able to participate in tomorrow’s match. However, the coaching staff has faith in all our players and I am sure that anyone who plays will give his maximum effort to win the game and return back to Egypt with the bronze medal,” Ahly’s captain and goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy said.
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