Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: IBRAHEEM AL OMARI/REUTERS
Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane. Picture: IBRAHEEM AL OMARI/REUTERS

Pitso Mosimane defended what seemed like conservative tactics by Al Ahly in their 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich at the Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar on Monday. 

The match situation of the semifinal also dictated the manner in which Ahly had to respond tactically against Hansi Flick’s phenomenally strong Bayern — statistically the best club in  world football.

Mosimane’s team‚ 1-0 winners against host club Al-Duhail in the previous round‚ conceded the first of Robert Lewandowski’s brace in the 17th minute as Bayern bossed the opening half-hour.

Ahly had to be circumspect in their response‚ because conceding an early second would end the contest against such a quality combination as the European champions.

The Red Devils’ best passage of play came in the half-hour after the break where Ahly managed possession and passing movements that troubled Bayern‚ even though Flick’s well-drilled club were able to reorganise quickly to deny Ahly real chances.

For Mosimane‚ it was the first defeat in 23 matches since his departure from Mamelodi Sundowns to join Ahly in October. He conceded that the level of opposition was a mitigating factor‚ but could not hide his obvious disappointment.

“I don’t know if there’s any coach who looks happy after he loses. It’s my first defeat since I’ve been at Ahly‚” Mosimane said.

“So you’ve got to understand how I feel. And I hate losing.

“We prepared hard for this game. And to lose ... is a bitter pill on those [preparations].”

After being stretched by Ahly after half time, Bayern regained control with Lewandowski’s second goal nine minutes from time.

In response to a question about Ahly appearing “scared” in their tactical outlook‚ Mosimane said: “You’re saying we are scared, I don’t know about that word. But I will respect your opinion.

“We just played against a big team that pushed us back. It’s not to say we want to stay back, they pushed us back. And you have to accept that when you play against a superior team.

“You can never be opening your midfield and a free flow to go and score the goals. This is the team that put eight goals past Barcelona.

“So we are not scared. We are playing the proper football and we thought maybe we would get one chance before the 80th minute‚ and maybe we can get something in the second half and then we can risk it.”

Ahly meet Brazil’s South American champions Palmeiras on Thursday in the third-place playoff‚ aiming to emulate the Cairo giants’ best finish of third in 2006.


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