By Farouk Essam
The 2012 Club World Cup kicks off in less than one week, and is set to cap off the year in football as the world's most well-known clubs vie to be named the best.
The tournament, which runs from December 6 to 16 in Japan, will see the top clubs from all the world's confederations battling it out, and, while most football fans are familiar with the likes of Barcelona and Santos, several of the other competitors are in need of introduction.
Goal.com presents to you all seven teams that will be taking part in this highly-anticipated competition. Here, we profile Al Ahly.
|SHORT HISTORY |
AL-Ahly was founded in 1907 as second sports club in Egypt after “El-Sekka", and began to dominate the Egyptian game in the 1940s. In the 1980s the club became successful on a continental level, winning the African Cup of Champions Clubs in 1982 and 1987. The club triumphed again in the renamed competition in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2008 under the coaching of Portuguese Manuel José, the club's most successful manager.
Al-Ahly's continental triumph in 2012 made it the most-crowned team in Africa with seven Champions League titles, four Cup Winners Cups, four Super Cups and one Afro-Asian Club Championship.
Al Ahly was the first club to reach the FIFA Club World Cup twice following two consecutive appearances beginning in 2005, becoming the first African club to win a medal in the competition when it claimed the bronze in 2006.
|TACTICS & PLAYING STYLE|
|After serving as an assistant to Jose in 2005 and 2006, manager Hossam Al-Badri will lead the team in Japan for the first time. |
Badri prefers an attacking style and utilizes five midfielders; this tactic was one of the most important reasons for the team's success against Esperance in the African Champions League final. It’s expected that the Egyptian team will be able to control the opening meeting whether it faces Sanfrecce Hiroshima or Auckland City.
|THE STAR | Hossam Ghaly|
The team leader and one of the most important elements in the midfield, the former Feyenoord and Tottenham player returned to his best form this year and led the team to a second African title after his first one in 2001.
If Al-Ahly progress in the tournament and finish in the top three, Ghaly could potentially be one of the candidates for the competition's Most Valuable Player award.
|THE SYMBOLS | Mohamed Aboutrika|
An inspiration on the pitch and in the locker room, Aboutrika was the first candidate for the African Local Player of the Year award, competing with two players from club TP Mazembe.
He will be participating in his fourth Club World Cup, having participated in every previous tournament that Al-Ahly reached. His experience on this stage will surely benefit his younger teammates who are competing in Japan for the first time.
|THE YOUNGSTER | Rami Rabeia |
|Al-Ahly's starting XI relies on players largely between 24 and 30 years old who have already matured at the club. But on the bench are plenty of young talents such as defender Rami Rabeia who will be expected to relieve Wael Gomaa, and talented Mahmoud Trezeguet who remains the fourth choice for El-Badri in the center.|
|THREE FUN FACTS|
|PROBABLE STARTING XI |
Ahly will be in top form for the global challenge, and several difficult decisions had to be made in winnowing the squad list down to 23 players. After missing the African Champions League final, left back Sayed Moawad is expected to make a return.
El-Badri will likely avoid many changes from the starting XI of the African Champions League final match against Esperance in Rades.
Fathi, Gomaa, Najib, Moawad
Saeed, Ghaly, Ashour, Soliman