Egyptian champions Al Ahly begin preparations for Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi

The African powerhouses, who qualified for the tournament by winning the 2020/21 African Champions League, Al Ahly landed in the capital on Monday night ahead of Saturday’s second-round match against Mexico’s Monterrey.

Ahly will be making their seventh appearance at the Club World Cup — the second most in the history of the tournament. Their best result to this point was achieved in 2006 and 2020, when they finished third.

Two years ago, Ahly were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual winners Bayern Munich, although they did go on to seal third place with a play-off victory against Brazil’s Palmeiras. Until now, no African side has won the Club World Cup.

Ahly, record 42-time Egyptian champions, have begun their domestic campaign well and sit top of the Egyptian Premier League on goal difference after seven matches.

Should Pitso Mosimane’s men get past CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey at Al Nahyan Stadium this weekend, they will meet Palmeiras, the Copa Libertadores champions, in the semi-final on February 8.

Meanwhile, Monterrey touched down in the UAE on Sunday as they get set to contest the Club World Cup for a fifth time. They finished third in 2012 and 2019.

“We feel very good, very motivated to come to do a great work,” Monterrey right-back Edson Gutierrez said. “We come for the dream to get the championship and we will do everything possible to fulfil this dream.”

The Club World Cup kicks off on Thursday when host representatives Al Jazira take on Tahiti’s AS Pirae at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium. The tournament, which also features European champions Chelsea and reigning Asian Champions League holders Al Hilal, runs until February 12.

Abu Dhabi plays host to the Club World Cup for the fifth time following successful editions in 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2018.