African Football - Club Cup offers chance for Egyptian redemption

Mohamed Aboutrika and Wael Gomaa will go down as two of Egypt's greatest players and while both have missed their last chance of playing at a World Cup they hope to draw some consolation from the club equivalent before retiring.

The pair, with a combined age of 73, are key members of African champions Al Ahli, who face their Asian counterparts Guangzhou Evergrade on Saturday in the Club World Cup, with a semi-final match against Bayern Munich at stake.

Both played in Egypt's 6-1 World Cup qualifying defeat by Ghana in October, which effectively ended their chances of qualifying for Brazil, with 38-year old Gomaa scoring an own goal.

Five other members of the Al Ahli squad, Sherif Ekramy, Ahmed Fathy, Walid Soliman, Mohamed Naguib and Hossam Ashour, also played in the game in Kumasi, as Egypt again missed out on their first World Cup appearance since 1990.

Gomaa, with more than 100 caps, has been pivotal in Egypt's recent success at continental level, playing in the team which won three African Nations Cup titles in a row between 2006 and 2010.

Aboutrika, one of the finest African players of his generation, played in the 2006 and 2008 team, although he missed the 2010 finals in Angola through injury.

Yet the World Cup has eluded them, their 2010 hopes ending with a shock 1-0 defeat to bitter rivals Algeria in a playoff in Khartoum.

"We always had this dream to go to the World Cup, but unfortunately we couldn't make it, now this championship offers us a chance to make up for the disappointment," Gomaa said.

Both players have hinted at retirement although their plans remain unclear.

"I was playing to fulfil the hope of playing at the World Cup. I achieved all my aims except that, so there is little to play for now," said Gomaa recently.

Al Ahli have won the African Champions League a record eight times with Gomaa in the side on six of those occasions and Aboutrika five.

Saturday's match is the first of a double bill and will be followed by the clash between Raja Casablanca, who qualified as champions of host nation Morocco, and CONCACAF champions Monterrey.

The winners of that game will face South American champions Atletico Mineiro in Wednesday's semi-final in Marrakech.