Ahly celebrate third spot at the Club World Championship
Tens of thousands of Egyptians are preparing to give a heroes' welcome to Ahly players, after the African champions clinched third place in the Club World Cup in Japan.
A sea of red flags flooded the streets of Cairo on Sunday after playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika lifted his team to an unprecedented result for the Egyptian club or any African outfit.
According to Egyptian radio, the team is expected to fly back from Japan in the early hours of Tuesday before a morning parade in the Egyptian metropolis on an open deck bus.
Newspapers were ecstatic on Monday, carrying red-letter headlines describing Ahly as "the third best football club in the world" after Sunday's 2-1 defeat of Mexico's Club America.
"We hadn't experienced the international stage in such a way in 16 years," sports columnist Hassan Mistikawi wrote in the top-selling state-owned Al-Ahram daily.
"Ahly has given us the hope and the spirit".
Some newspapers even failed to report that Brazil's Internacional pipped Barcelona to the supreme title as all honours went to the team local newspapers have dubbed "the African club of the century".
Aboutrika's brace in Sunday's game and his dazzling performances throughout the season made him a serious contender for the upcoming African player of the year award and secured his standing as Egypt's most popular personality.
"Aboutrika has won the highest prize any person can achieve, that is the love of the people," Mistikawi wrote.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent a message of congratulations to the players and Kuwaiti billionaire Nasser al-Khorafi donated US$175,000 dollars to the club.
Tuesday's celebrations were expected to surpass those that followed Egypt's victory in the African Cup of Nations, held in Egypt in February.