Date and time: 8 Feb 2022, 17:30 GMT+1
Competition: FIFA Club World Cup 2021
Palmeiras begins their FIFA Club World Cup campaign against African giants Al Ahly who eliminated CF Monterrey to reach their second semi-finals.
Palmeiras departed for the UAE Friday after an impressive 1-0 over Água Santa in the Sao Paulo State League.
The 2021 Copa Libertadores winners will have themselves to blame if they fail to reach the finals this time after last year’s shock exit in the hands of Tigres UANL.
Brazil legend Rivaldo believes Palmeiras has all it takes to win the FIFA Club World Cup even at the expense of tournament favourites Chelsea FC.
Palmeiras vs Al Ahly Match Preview
Palmeiras finished the 2021 league season third behind Flamengo and league winners Atlético Mineiro. So far in 2022, the club has played four competitive matches in the São Paulo State League.
About four matches played in 2022, Palmeiras is yet to lose a game, amassing three wins and recording a draw at São Bernardo.
Coach Abel Ferreira believes in the strength of his players and is working hard to avoid a repeat of last year’s shock exit in the hands of Tigres UANL.
Abel Ferreira, in his two-year relationship with the club, has won the Copa Libertadores back to back but failed in his initial bid to make an impression in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Al Ahly Egypt
The Egyptian and African Champions showed their class in a two-horse race encounter against CF Monterrey to qualify for the semi-final.
CF Monterrey, otherwise known as the Rayados, failed to make their chances count against the Africans.
Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosinane knows how to get the job at this level. In 2016, he took South African soccer team Mamelodi Sundowns to the competition.
For Pitso Mosinane and Al Ahly this time, Mohamed Hany 53rd minute, which brought them to the semi-final, may not be enough due to the firepower from Palmeiras.
Palmeiras had players ruled out for the competition due to COVID-19. However, over 95 per cent of the team is available for selection, including players like Dudu, Gustavo Scarpa, Rony, Raphael Veiga and goalkeeper Weverton.
Speaking to FIFA.com, Palmeiras forward Dudu believes that the club has a chance at lifting the trophy to correct last year’s disaster and Chelsea’s current threat.
‘It was a great experience. Everyone knows how prestigious the Club World Cup is. I think Al Duhail gave a good account of ourselves. But last year was very different from now. When you’re playing for a club like Al Duhail, you’re there to participate, to gain experience. When you’re representing Palmeiras, you’re there to win the trophy. The demands are very different. Dudu told FIFA.com.
Dudu also reflected on the club’s shock exit in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup last year to Tigres UANL.
‘It was tough for me. I was part of the club, I was a supporter, my kids are supporters, and it was unfortunate for us all. Palmeiras had many things hindering them last year; they had been on a crazy sequence of games. But fortunately, we’re back at this competition, and we have an opportunity to make up for it. We want to become two-time world champions for our fans. He added.’
Al Ahly Egypt relied on Mohamed Handy’s 53rd-minute strike to secure the semi-finals. The Egyptians have fewer concerns when it comes to injuries, and the momentum in the Camp is high following the defeat of the Rayados.
Players to watch
Mohamed Handy’s 53rd-minute strike was enough for the African representatives to book the next round. Although Hany isn’t necessarily the best player at Al Ahly, he’s got the right mindset to lead his team to victory against the Copa Libertadores winners.
The ever-improving Rony is expected to lead the attack of Palmeiras against Al Ahly. Last season, he was one of the best performers in the team and had already begun with some form this season.
Rony has played in almost every game for Palmeiras in the Campeonato Paulista Série A1, scoring a goal and providing two assists. The 26-year old Brazilian with an average rating of 7.17 is a threat to Palmeiras.