Agadir, Morocco, Reuters—Jubilant Raja Casablanca fans shook the normally tranquil tourist resort of Agadir out of its slumber on Saturday after their team reached the Club World Cup semi-finals with a shock win over Mexico’s CF Monterrey.
Barely a week after sacking coach Mohamed Fakhir, the Moroccan side stunned the CONCACAF champions 2-1 in extra time to earn a semi-final meeting with Ronaldinho’s Atlético Mineiro on Wednesday.
A double bill at the Agadir stadium also saw what could be the final curtain call for Mohamed Aboutrika, one of the greatest African players of his generation, after he limped out of Al Ahly’s 2-0 defeat to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande FC at halftime.
Raja went ahead in the 25th minute when Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco fumbled a cross from the right and Chermseddine Chtibi slipped home the rebound.
The Mexican side, taking part in the competition for the third time in a row, equalized in the 53rd minute when Humberto Suazo floated over a free kick from the right and captain José María Basanta headed in at the far post.
But Raja stole the game when Ivorian midfielder Kouko Guehi powered home a header from a corner five minutes into extra-time, leaving Monterrey to contemplate another Mexican failure at the competition.
Aboutrika’s unhappy afternoon began when he missed a gilt-edged chance to give the African champions an early lead, heading over from close range with the goal at his mercy.
Asian champions Guangzhou, under the leadership of Italian World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi, took full advantage to earn a glamour tie against all-conquering Bayern Munich in Agadir on Tuesday.
“If we played Bayern 100 times, they would win 99 of those meetings but we might win the other one,” said Lippi. “That has always been my philosophy.”
Second-half goals from Brazilian forward Elkeson and Argentinine playmaker Dario Conca ended the hopes of their Egyptian opponents, who were clearly affected by the lack of domestic football which has been suspended in their country due to the political situation.
Aboutrika has already said he would retire after the tournament, although the club have been trying to persuade him to stay on.
“Nothing has been officially conveyed to us,” said Al-Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef. “We still need Aboutrika, he is of great value, he is a heavyweight player.”