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FIFA CWC Preview: Al Ahly (EGY) vs. Seattle Sounders (USA)

A club with plenty of history at the FIFA Club World Cup faces the first ever American participant at the competition when Egypt’s Al Ahly duel with Major League Soccer club Seattle Sounders at Saturday’s second quarterfinal in the 2022 edition. Ahly, three-time third place finishers in their record at the tournament, have high expectations on the back of a strong 2022-23 Egyptian Premier League campaign so far and are aiming to equal or even surpass their best-ever finish. The circumstances and timing of the competition do not favor Seattle but the MLS team are more than capable of taking down Ahly.

Ahly took part in the competition’s opening match, defeating Auckland City 3-0 in the first round to get comfortable in Morocco. Coach Marcel Koller and attacker Hussein El Shahat expressed confidence that they will be able to overcome Seattle and made it clear that finishing in third place is the minimum expectation. Goalkeeper Mohammed El Shenawy stated the presence of numerous Ahly supporters in Morocco was important to their win over Auckland City and will give them motivation to perform on Saturday.

El Shahat scored the first goal against Auckland and his improved form this season makes him a player to watch in the attack along with tricky forward Ahmed Abdelkader. Striker Mohamed Sherif is currently in good form as well but there is plenty of depth up top for Ahly with South African forward Percy Tau and former Egypt national team forward Kahraba also options. Mohamed Magdy “Afsha” could start to add a source of creativity but is more likely to be an attacking substitute behind a strong three-man midfield of Aliou Dieng and Egypt national team members Amr El Solia and Hamdi Fathi.

The defense is at full strength for Ahly led by veteran goalkeeper El Shenawy and Egypt national team center back Mohamed Abdelmonem. Tunisia left back Ali Maâloul is excellent when getting forward along with right back Mohamed Hany and the two will be eager to send accurate crosses into the penalty area.

Seattle won the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League but suffered a letdown during the MLS season, failing to reach the playoffs. The team have not played a competitive match since early October and prepared for the competition by playing friendly matches against Swedish club Hammarby and Austrian side Wolfsberger.

The most visible stars are former Uruguay national team playmaker and Seattle captain Nicolás Lodeiro and Peruvian forward Raúl Ruidíaz. USA national team forward Jordan Morris adds to a strong attack and midfielder Cristian Roldan was also on the American squad at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Slovakian attacker Albert Rusnák is a quality player and Brazilian central midfielder João Paulo has been excellent during his spell but has not played a competitive match since suffering a serious knee injury during the CONCACAF Champions League final.

The defense could be Seattle’s weak spot. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei is a reliable veteran shot stopper but the defense struggled at times during the 2022 MLS season. South American center backs Xavier Arreaga of Ecuador and Yeimar Gomez Andrade from Colombia are physical presences but young American defender Jackson Ragen could also start.

More on both teams from FIFA as well as Egyptian and American media are below.

El Shahat: Al Ahly’s aim is to win the title this time (FIFA)

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