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Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Jose dampens Ahly's expectations

Manuel Jose
Jose stressed Ahly's strengths, while playing down their chances
African champions Al Ahly of Egypt are aiming to finish third in the Club World Cup, which kicks off in Japan on Thursday.

The Cairo Red Devils, who are preparing to represent the continent for the third time in four years, face Pachuca of Mexico in their opening quarter-final game on Saturday.

The winners face South American champions Liga de Quito (LDU) of Ecuador four days later, with the victors in that tie progressing to likely meet Manchester United in the final.

However, despite eyeing up a possible route to a final showdown against the European champions, Ahly coach Manuel Jose has said his side would settle for third place.

"For an African club to finish third in this competition resembles winning the title," Jose said.

"We will do our best to represent Africa and Egypt well, but our supporters must be aware there is a big gap between football in South America and Europe and football in Africa.

"Winning the Club World Cup is an impossible task for now.

"We need more time to achieve that goal," said Jose, who guided Ahly to a record sixth African Champions League title last month.

Manuel Jose and Mohamed Aboutrika
Sometimes it is Mohamed Aboutrika or Mohamed Barakat who stand out, but in general we perform as one strong unit

Al Ahly coach Manuel Jose
The Portuguese-born coach was on bullish form after his side beat Cameroonian side Coton Sport 4-2 on aggregate to take the title, but has since dampened fans' expectations of triumphing on the world stage.

"When Ahly went to Japan for the first time three years ago, fans wanted us to win the title and we finished last," he said before the team departed for Tokyo.

"A year later we approached the tournament more realistically and came third."

Jose did, however, warn his opponents not to underestimate the strength of his side.

"We have a lot of excellent players," he said.

"Sometimes it is Mohamed Aboutrika or Mohamed Barakat who stand out, but in general we perform as one strong unit."

The tournament itself is in the fourth year of its current incarnation as the Fifa Club World Cup and was won last year by Italy's AC Milan.

The eventual winners will scoop a top prize of US$5million.

Manchester United join at the semi-final stage and are favoured to make the final from the other half of the draw that includes Australia's Adelaide United, Gamba Osaka of Japan and part-timers Waitakere United of New Zealand.

Ahly will hope they can improve on last year's African representatives Etoile du Sahel's showing of fourth - but only by one place, going on what their coach has said.

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see also
Champions League statistics
17 Nov 08 |  African
Coton Sport 2-2 Al Ahly
16 Nov 08 |  African

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