Spain s midfielder Dani Ceballos (C) dribbles the ball while Egypt s defender Mahmoud El Wench (L) attempts to stop him during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men s group C first round football match between Egypt and Argentina at Sapporo Dome in Sapporo on July 25, 2021 (AFP)
Egypt's U23 football side have only one option if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympic Games -- beating Australia in their final Group C clash on Wednesday.
The Pharaohs held European heavyweights Spain to a surprise 0-0 draw in their opening group-stage game after producing a solid defensive display, but a similar strategy backfired in their following match against Argentina.
Argentina netted from a rare clear-cut opportunity to secure a narrow 1-0 victory as Egypt failed to claw their way back to the game after looking short of ideas and creativity.
Egypt's primary target was to tame Argentina's attack, and they did so to a great extent.
A moment's lapse in concentration cost them dear though as Argentina defender Facundo Medina swept home from inside the area seven minutes into the second half, a goal which Egypt was hardly prepared to deal with.
The team's over-reliance on winger Ramadan Sobhi to launch their breakaways did them no favours and they must find alternative attacking strategies if they are to threaten a physical Australia side in Wednesday's vital encounter.
Egypt coach Shawky Gharib rued his side's "missed chances" against Argentina, even though it was hard to identify which opportunities he was referring to.
"We always face a problem when we lose concentration. Argentina's goal came from their only dangerous attack," Gahrib told beIN Sports after the loss against Argentina.
"This is football. You should make the most of your chances. We are still working and we still have a chance to qualify for next round. We didn't lose hope."
Egypt are at the bottom of the group with one point, two behind Argentina and Australia and three adrift of leaders Spain in a tight race for two quarter-final tickets.
Should they beat Australia and Argentina fail to overcome Spain, Egypt will reach the knockout stage. If Argentina defeat Spain, Egypt will need to better Spain's goal difference to go through.
Australia are likely to prove a tough opponent against Egypt, having claimed an upset victory over Argentina before narrowly losing 1-0 to Spain.
"We're sitting here today with qualification in our own hands so it's all up to us," Australia coach Graham Arrnold told the official website of the country's football association.
"We're not relying on someone else having to beat someone else."
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