Urawa Red Diamonds failed to send departing duo Maciej Skorza and Jose Kante off on a high after the J.League 1 side could only finish 4th in the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup following a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Egyptian giants Al-Ahly.
Head coach Skorza and striker Kante were set to depart Urawa at the conclusion of the 2023 season, with Skorza being replaced by Per-Mathias Hogmo and Kante having announced his plans to retire once 2023 ends, thus making Friday’s Club World Cup bronze medal clash against Al-Ahly the final outing for the two.
However, Al-Ahly were out to spoil the mood for the Reds and the African giants took a 2-0 lead before the half-hour mark thanks to a quick-fire double from Yasser Ibrahim in the 19th minute and Percy Tau in the 25th minute.
Kante pulled one back for Urawa in the 43rd minute with a curling finish to ensure that the Saitama-based outfit were still in it once the first half came to a close.
Urawa then drew level in the 54th minute, after Al-Ahly defender Mohamed Hany had been adjudged to have handled within the area by VAR, prompting the referee to award Urawa a penalty, which was dispatched perfectly by Alexander Scholz.
However, Hany went from villain to hero six minutes later, as his attempt on goal was deflected into Shusaku Nishikawa’s goal by Yoshio Koizumi that regained Al-Ahly’s lead.
Another Al-Ahly veteran in Ali Maaloul then wrapped up the win in the last minute of the match with a stunning free-kick that left Nishikawa stranded – drawing the Skorza era to a close with heartbreak.