MARRAKECH: Egypt’s youngsters covered the embarrassment of their seniors when they qualified for the Olympic Games football finals in London next year.
Egypt, the African champions, will be missing from next year’s Nations Cup finals after a disastrous groups campaign but the under-23s ended a 20-year Olympic absence after claiming a 2-0 victory over Senegal to finish third at the African Championship in Morocco. Gabon were surprise winners, beating hosts Morocco 2-1 in Marrakech.
This represented a first significant coaching success for Hany Ramzy who was a promising defender the last time Egypt took part in the Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona. His team recovered in the nick of time after losing 3-2 to Morocco in the semi-finals.
“We proved our doubters wrong and showed that we are a promising side,” said veteran midfielder Hossam Hassan. “We had been worried about the response of our fans, but the criticism motivated us to do better. We proved that our new generation gives us hope for the future.”
The Olympic team, which included many players from the side eliminated in the group stage of the World Under-20 Cup earlier this year, had beaten Gabon 1-0 in their opening match in Morocco, lost 1-0 to Ivory Coast but then South Africa 2-0 to reach the last four.
Ramzy said: “I’m satisfied with the performance of most of the players. We will not be going to London to just make a good impression, we are eyeing good results.”
Senegal can still reach London if they beat an Asian nation in a two-leg play-off next spring.