Caf Champions League winners and Africa’s hopefuls Al Ahly have been eliminated from the 2013 Fifa Club World Cup following a 2-0 loss to Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande FC at the Agadir Stadium in Morocco on Saturday.
Two goals from Brazilian striker Elkeson and Argentine midfielder Dario Conca were enough for the Southern China Tigers to surmount the Egyptian hurdle and book a date with European champions Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.
Guangzhou began with a frenetic pace as Elkeson was set up to conclude a slick move up-field but his last ditch effort narrowly missed the target.
By the 5th minute, Ahly had a chance to claim a dream start when a blunder from Guangzhou goalkeeper Cheng Zeng gifted the ball to onrushing Emad Meteab near the box, but his deft lob for Mohamed Aboutrika was headed over the crossbar.
Coached by former Italy manager Marcelo Lippi, the AFC Champions League winners looked too swift and compact for the African side, who were subjected to more domination, with Dario Conca coming close to opening the scoring with a left-footed effort by the half hour mark.
Neither side found the back of the net by the break, but the Red Devils returned with high spirits and were probably counting on their rich experience of participating in five editions of the tournament so far, with Hossam Ashour and Aboutrika part of that experience of 11 Club World Cup matches.
Ahly players also enjoyed support from fans of the host team Raja Casablanca, but Guangzhou were not fazed in the efforts which paid off in the 49th minute when Elkeson ran onto a rebound from another Brazilian striker Muriqui’s shot, dispatching it into the back net.
Muriqui almost claimed a double for the Chinese side three minutes after the opener but his drive flashed wide off Ahly’s post.
Reactions from the Egyptians went unsuccessful; instead, issues were compounded in the 97th minute when they conceded a disheartening second goal.
A sublime pass from Guangzhou captain Zhi Zheng picked Muriqui out up-field but his shot was palmed away by Ahly keeper Sherif Ekramy, with the ball falling onto the path of Dario Conca, who stroke home his effort to give his side a two-goal cushion by the 67th minute.
Al Ahly’s Abdalla Said almost pulled one back for his side but his effort crashed off the crossbar as Guangzhou's Linpeng Zhang missed one last chance to claim a three-goal lead for his team, who held on until the final whistle.
Ahly can no longer progress but will play Mexico’s Monterrey for fifth place on Wednesday, while Guangzhou move on to the semi-finals and will meet top favourites Bayern Munich on December 17 at the same stadium.