18 December 2006, by Sean Gillen
Manuel Jose leads Al-Ahly to historic third place finish
Barcelona beaten but Deco voted player of tournament
In the third place play-off of the Club World Cup in Japan, Portuguese manager Manuel Jose lead Egyptian side Al-Ahly to a 2-1 victory over America of Mexico.
Flavio’s winner eleven minutes from time gave the Africans the win, after America’s Salvador Cabanas had cancelled out Mohamed Aboutrika’s earlier strike.
A delighted Manuel Jose told reporters after the match: “We put on a real high-quality display. Our style this time was more ‘European’ than it was last year. In retrospect, I don’t see why we couldn’t have made it to the final.”
“Every time we play a club from outside Africa we pick up valuable experience. I wanted us to be able to take part in this competition again so that we could show everyone the real Al Ahly, and today we did just that.”
“Our players have been playing for the last two years without a break, and I’m so proud of them. We were too tense in the game against Internacional, but today we were able to demonstrate our competitive strength. I’d like to dedicate this victory to Egypt, and to Africa.”
Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard paid tribute to Portuguese midfielder Deco after the Spanish champions surprisingly lost to Internacional in the final. Adriano’s late goal gave the South American champions the win in the tournament’s final on Sunday.
Despite the team’s loss, Deco was not only given the Golden Ball for being the Man of the Match for the final, he was also awarded the trophy for Player of the Tournament, and Rijkaard was more than happy to give the former Porto man his praise after the match.
“Deco has come into this with the right mentality and has taken his responsibilities. He deserved this award, he has shown that he is a player with a lot of personality on the pitch,” said the disappointed Dutch coach.
“We can only congratulate Internacional because they played very strongly until they won the game. Although it looked like FC Barcelona had more possession of the ball, the opposition was very solid, and waited for their chances. Most of the chances we had in the six yard box were defended very well by the other team.”
“All I said before the match turned out to be true. Recently, European teams have found it very hard to win these games. So, I can’t say I am surprised.”
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