Egypt’s U-23 coach Hany Ramzy said on Tuesday that his primary task is to introduce a new generation to the senior team, which suffered a dip in form lately after a hugely successful six-year spell.
Ramzy’s Olympic team were tasked with completing the African Cup of Nations qualifiers after the seniors failed to qualify for a tournament they won in 2006, 2008 and 2010 under the guidance of Hassan Shehata.
The Olympic team slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Sierra Leone in the penultimate qualifier. They will face Niger in their last Group G game on Saturday.
“My ambition is to present a new Egyptian generation of footballers that can represent Egypt for many years to come,” Ramzy, one of the country’s finest defenders in the 1990s and early 2000s, said in an interview with CAFonline.com.
Egypt’s U-23 side are preparing for an eight-team tournament that will determine whether they will reach next year’s Olympic Games in London. They were drawn in Group A along with South Africa, Ivory Coast and Gabon.
The tournament, which will take place in Egypt, runs from 26 November to 10 December.
“We almost made our minds regarding the starting 11 as we consider this game (against Niger) to be a tough contest against an ambitious side and strong opponents who can qualify for the Cup of Nations,” Ramzy said.
“We look to this game as a preparation for our African U-23 Championship which will also serve as a London 2012 Olympics qualifier. This match will put pressure on our players and that's something we'd like to capitalise on to help us in our upcoming games.
“It is still an international game, after all. On the other hand everyone is going to watch the game as Niger need a win to qualify from this group after they beat second-placed South Africa during day five.
“Everybody on the continent will be watching this game and the South Africa/ Sierra Leone game with great interest,” he added.
Niger top the group with nine points, one ahead of South Africa and Sierra Leone with one match to go. Egypt lie at the bottom on two points.
The winners will directly qualify for next year’s Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, while the runners-up will wait to learn whether their points tally will make them one of the best two second-placed teams.