Having both fallen short in their Club World Cup semi-finals, Al-Hilal and Al Ahly will square off in a battle for third place on Saturday.
The two sides booked their places in this year’s competition with triumphs in the AFC Champions League and CAF Champions League respectively, with the Saudi side falling short against European champions Chelsea.
Al-Hilal earned their place in the Club World Cup with a record fourth AFC Champions League triumph last season, beating South Korean side Pohang Steelers 2-0 in the final thanks to goals from Nasser Al-Dawsari and Moussa Marega, just two years after they last lifted the trophy.
Following a mixed start to the Saudi top-flight season by their own standards, Al-Za’eem headed to Abu Dhabi needing to battle through the first round of the Club World Cup, and they cruised through to the semi-final with a 6-1 thrashing of UAE side Al Jazira Club.
Leonardo Jardim’s side fell behind in the first 15 minutes, but they quickly drew level through Odion Ighalo and led thanks to Matheus Pereira, before Mohamed Kanno, Salem Al-Dawsari, Marega and Andre Carrillo got on the scoresheet in a rampant second-half performance.
That saw them progress to the semi-final, and they faced the unenviable task of a clash with Champions League winners Chelsea with Romelu Lukaku’s first-half goal the only difference between the sides.
Following that commendable effort, the Saudi champions will look to bow out of this year’s competition on a high with a third-placed finish on Saturday.
Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane on February 8, 2022© Reuters
They meet an Al Ahly side in the same position, after they dropped out at the hands of Palmeiras.
Following their 10th CAF Champions League triumph, culminating in a 3-0 thrashing of Kaizer Chiefs in the final, the Nadi El Watanniyah booked their place in another Club World Cup competition, but they headed into the tournament on the back of an underwhelming run of form on the domestic front.
The Cairo outfit quickly put that behind them, as Mohamed Hany netted the only goal in a victory over Mexican giants Monterrey to advance to the semi-final, with South American champions Palmeiras awaiting.
With Raphael Veiga and Dudu netting goals quickly either side of the interval, Pitso Mosimane’s side dropped out of contention after a 2-0 defeat, and they will now push for a victory before they return to action in Africa.