Guangzhou coach Marcello Lippi, whose side won 2-0 to earn a semi-final against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, said his Asian champions were on their last legs after an exhausting season which began in early January.
Opposite number Mohamed Youssef said Al Ahli were rusty after the last two Egyptian championships were cancelled following the Port Said stadium disaster in February 2012 and political instability.
"The players have been working for 12 consecutive months, they haven't had a holiday in that time, we've played more than 60 games so this is a great win, especially against a team which is used to this type of competition," Italian World-Cup winning coach Lippi told reporters.
"We have had a whole year of matches, of travelling, of training and the trips are very long in China, five or six hours each time.
"We won the championship, the Asian Champions League and we got to the Chinese Cup final... it never stops."
Lippi's side, the first from China to qualify for the Club World Cup, were rewarded with a match against the team he regards as the strongest in the world.
"If we played Bayern Munich 100 times, they would win 99 but there's always the other one," he said. "That's always been my philosophy."
Youssef said his Al Ahli team had not played a game for over a month, when they beat Orlando Pirates to win the African Champions League.
"It's true this has had an impact on us," he said.
"We have been playing a game every 15 days, sometimes in the old days we would play three matches in nine days, so we've tried to change the way the players train. It has not been easy but we have to deal with these conditions, this is our reality."