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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 January 2019

Al Ain's Mohammed Ahmed seeks more history against River Plate in Club World Cup semi-final 

Emirati defender scored the tournament's fastest ever goal and has set his sights on causing an upset against the South American champions

Already a history-maker, Mohammed Ahmed is intent on more.

The Al Ain defender entered the record books on Saturday night, scoring in the second minute of the Fifa Club World Cup quarter-final against Esperance de Tunis to set his side on their way to a 3-0 victory.

The goal, a header from a corner, was clocked at 79 seconds, the fastest in tournament history. It usurped the previous mark, recorded by Atletico Mineiro’s Diego Tardelli in 2013, by 32 seconds.

Now, though, Ahmed wants to claim another unprecedented feat: to go one better than domestic rivals Al Jazira did last year and become the first UAE side to reach a Club World Cup final.

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More from Club World Cup:

Marcus Berg hopeful to be fit for Al Ain's semi-final against River Plate

Paul Radley: Al Ain aim to keep the party going against River Plate

Leonardo Ponzio: River Plate focused only on Al Ain, not potential final

Zoran Mamic: Al Ain must be ambitious against River Plate

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“If we win it will be for us to make history in the UAE,” said Ahmed, looking ahead to Tuesday’s semi-final clash against Argentina’s River Plate. “Hopefully in the next game we beat the Al Jazira record.

“We can do more than Jazira. We can qualify from the semi-final. Because I know we have good players. We are all one heart, so we can beat any team.”

A similarly fast start would help. Ahmed said a colleague predicted before the match against Esperance that he would score, so he was glad to deliver. He just didn’t imagine it would arrive so soon. Having done so, he wants to keep his place in history.

“They told me now [it was the fastest goal],” he said, smiling. “I hope nobody can score before this time. I don’t want somebody to beat my time. It’s OK, I’m in history now. Next time I hope I score in one second.”

Ahmed knows River Plate, the freshly minted Copa Libertadores champions, represent another step up in class. However, he is buoyed by Saturday’s performance against Esperance – one of the best, he says, in his six years at the club – and that Al Ain are beginning to recover from a virus that ran through the squad, despite the effects of playing two games in three days.

He is sure, too, that the 21,000-plus spectators that packed the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday will be even more vocal come the semi-final on Tuesday.

“We made a great job today,” Ahmed said. “I want to congratulate everyone in the UAE because they support us. Not just Al Ain fans, all fans in the UAE and I am grateful for this.

“I hope next game we will be more concentrated and we try to win. We will give everything for this game.”

Asked what he knew about River, Ahmed replied: “I know they are dangerous. They like to fight; they like to give everything. We'll try to be calm like today. The coach will put the best 11 players. River Plate are a good team; we must respect them.”

Updated: December 17, 2018 07:00 AM

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