Egypt’s Olympic team have benefited from the experience of replacing the senior side in Saturday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier away to Sierra Leone, assistant coach Motemed Gamal said.
The U-23 side were given the task of completing the remaining two qualifying matches after the senior team lost hopes of defending their Nations Cup title in next year’s edition in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Sierra Leone took the lead on the quarter hour mark through an own goal by Egypt’s Islam Ramadan but the visitors equalized on the stroke of halftime, thanks to a simple tap-in from striker Marwan Mohsen.
The hosts laid siege to Egypt’s area in the second half and eventually claimed all three points when striker Mohamed Bangura converted a penalty with one minute remaining.
“We can’t gain experience without playing. Today we have learned a lot from some difficult situations,” Gamal, the assistant of Egypt’s Olympic team coach Hany Ramzy, said in a phone interview with Modern Sport after the match.
“The presence of (veteran midfielder) Ahmed Hassan was also important, he helped the young players.
“For example, we have learned from the late goal we conceded. We should have had more ball possession at such a crucial stage of the match.”
Egypt’s defeat officially ended the slim mathematical chance they had of reaching the Nations Cup, a tournament they won a record seven times. They remained at the bottom of Group G on two points with one match remaining.
The national Olympic side, who will also face Niger in the last qualifier, are preparing for the final phase of the 2012 London Games qualifiers, which will take place in Egypt.
“Overall, our match today against Sierra Leone was very useful, especially given the poor state of the pitch. We are satisfied with the performance of the players,” Gamal added.