Believe in my players, urges Ahly's Jose says

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NAGOYA: Al Ahly coach Manuel Jose called for more belief from his players after they overcame a nervy start to down Auckland City s amateurs 2-0 in the Club World Cup. The African champions from Egypt will play Brazil’s Internacional in the semi-finals on Wednesday and Jose said they would need greater self-confidence against the South American title-holders. We need to show more belief in ourselves. That s a major difference between Brazilian and Egyptian football, he said. My players don t need to think about things too much. We have nothing to lose, and at worst we ll gain valuable experience. We have some good individuals, so there s no need to be frightened of anyone.

The five-time CAF Champions League winners were held scoreless by Auckland City, most of whose players have day jobs, until attractive second-half strikes from Flavio and African player of the year nominee Mohamed Aboutrika. Ahly, arguably Africa s biggest team with an estimated 50 million fans, were desperate to make up for last year s campaign when they finished bottom after defeats to Al Ittihad and Sydney FC.

We were very nervous in the first half. You re obviously on a hiding to nothing against an amateur club, and not winning last year just increased the pressure on us, said Jose. We were severely affected by the pressure today, it was plain for all to see. We lost our shape in the first half, and kept trying to find a way through the middle. We created decent chances, but we failed to put them away due to our nerves. We spent half-time talking about how to put that right. It was basically as if we were playing against ourselves and not Auckland.

Auckland coach Allan Jones was pleased with a robust performance from his team, who committed 28 fouls but managed only two shots on goal. We ve played very well today for an amateur club. All my players did their jobs very well, especially in the first half, he said. I think the main reason we lost today was the difference in technical ability. Ahly boast outstanding players such as Aboutrika – he s capable of settling a match on his own.

Auckland will play the loser of the match between Jeonbuk Motors and Club America later on Monday to avoid bottom place. Barcelona are hot favorites in the competition between the champions of Europe, South America, Central, North America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Sao Paulo won last year s title, beating Liverpool 1-0 in the final.

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