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Al Ahly's dream run continues at Club World Cup

Story highlights

  • Al Ahly and Monterrey qualify for semifinals of Club World Cup in Japan
  • African champions Al Ahly win 2-1 against home team Sanfrecce Hiroshima
  • Captain Hossam Ghaly set to miss Corinthians clash due to serious knee injury
  • Mexico's Monterrey will take on European champions Chelsea of England

Al Ahly's incredible journey continued on Sunday as the Egyptian soccer side reached the semifinals of the Club World Cup in Japan.

While back home protesters demonstrated against President Mohamed Morsy's planned constitutional referendum, Al Ahly set up a clash with South American champions Corinthians on Thursday.

"Ahly fans can now dream of reaching the final. We, too, dream of this, and we'll do our best to clinch the title," coach Hossam El-Badry told the club's television channel after a 2-1 victory over J-League winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

With the Egyptian league suspended since the deaths of more than 70 fans at Ahly's match in Port Said in February, it is a miracle the Cairo team has got this far.

Read: Ultras seek justice for fan deaths

Ahly qualified for the tournament by winning the African title for a record-extending seventh time last month, when the second leg in Tunisia was played the same day that more than 50 children died in a train accident in Egypt.

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Most of its home games in the African Champions League were played behind closed doors due to security fears, while the first leg of the final was held at a military facility near Alexandria.

"#Ahly is the only entity that can unite millions behind it on one opinion, hope, and dream," one fan wrote on Twitter after Sunday's game in Toyota.

Veteran Mohamed Aboutrika scored a second-half winner in a match marred by a serious injury to the man he replaced -- Ahly's captain and key playmaker Hossam Ghaly.

Battling snowy, cold conditions Ahly took the lead after 15 minutes when Hiroshima's replacement goalkeeper Takuya Masuda was given no chance by Elsayed Hamdi.

Masuda had been forced into the fray in just the fifth minute when regular No. 1 Shusaku Nishikawa was carried off with a facial injury after colliding with Ahly striker Gedo.

The home side equalized after Ahly captain Ghaly went off with a suspected ruptured knee ligament, as the J-League's leading scorer Hisato Sato netted in the 32nd minute.

Aboutrika, playing at the tournament for the fourth time, scored his fourth goal to go level with record-holders Lionel Messi of Argentina and former Brazil international Denilson.

Ahly also reached the semifinals in 2006, losing to Brazilian side Internacional before winning the third-place playoff against Mexico's Club America.

"The Corinthians are a great team. We'll do our best to get a positive result and dedicate the title to the victims of the Port Said stadium disaster," said the 34-year-old Aboutrika, who was also in the 2006 team.

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"Playing with Brazilian opponents is always interesting for me. Also, Brazil is a great thing for me, especially since I dream of reaching the World Cup there with the national team."

Mexican team Monterrey also qualified for the semifinals, setting up a clash with European champions Chelsea on Thursday by beating Asian titleholders Ulsan Hyundai 3-1.

Monterrey, winners of the CONCACAF Champions League last season, took the lead in the ninth minute through 19-year-old winger Jesus Corona while former Argentina international Cesar Delgado added two late goals.

The Korean side scored an 88th-minute consolation through 2012 Asian player of the year Lee Keunho, whose long-range shot eluded keeper Jonathan Orozco.

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