The Egyptian national under-23 team players with coach Hossam El-Badry (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt U-23 coach Hossam El-Badry said on Thursday he is undaunted over tough pairings in the Olympics qualifiers, confirming that his only goal is to reach Rio de Janeiro.
Egypt was handed a tough group in the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations, qualifying for the next Summer Olympic games alongside Nigeria, Algeria and Mali.
The other group includes hosts Senegal, South Africa, Zambia and Tunisia, but El-Badry stressed that he is unfazed by the toughness of his group.
"I have a target and it is to qualify for the Olympics, no matter what the names of the opponents are," Gharib told Algerian newspaper El-Shorouk on Thursday.
"Qualifying for the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations means that your team is among the best eight teams on the continent, thus there is no room for an easy game."
The former Ahly coach believes that the game against Mali will be the toughest in their group campaign, saying that the Malian team includes "very good players".
"Algeria and Nigeria are continental heavyweights but I think our game against Mali will be very tough. Mali has won the Africa youth championship and they have very good players on their squad. Our game against them will be very tough," he added. "But we don't fear any opponent as we look to win all our games in the continental tournament to reach the Olympics."
El-Badri says he is happy with his players' performance while playing with the Pharaohs against Chad in the African qualifiers.
Mahmoud "Kahraba" Abdel-Moneam, Ramadan Sobhi, and Rami Rabie featured in Hector Cuper's starting line-up against Chad in the African qualifiers, while Mahmoud "Trezeguet" Hassan was a substitute in the 4-1 away win.
"My team includes many Egyptian Premier League stars and some of them played regularly with the Pharaohs so I am confident that they will perform well in the upcoming tournament," El-Badri said.
Senegal will host the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations from 28 November to 12 December.
The first three teams will represent the continent in the next Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.
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