Egypt eye semi-final berth at U-23 African Championship

Hatem Maher, Tuesday 29 Nov 2011

Egypt will edge closer to a place at next year’s London Olympic Games if they beat Ivory Coast on Wednesday

Egypt
Egypt beat Gabon 1-0 in their African Championship opener (Photo: CAFonline)

Egypt will seal passage to the U-23 African Championship semis and come to within a whisker of ending their long Olympic Games drought if they overcome Ivory Coast on Wednesday.

The young Pharaohs opened their African Championship campaign with a narrow 1-0 victory over Gabon in Group B following a below-par performance as they aim to end a 20-year Olympic absence and qualify for next year’s London Games.

Egypt coach Hany Ramzy vowed to improve his side’s display in a much tougher test against Ivory Coast, who were held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa in their opening game.

“Our main aim now is to improve our performance and we expect that to happen gradually with time,” the former Egypt defender said in an interview with CAFonline.com.

“We have to win our next match to make sure we qualify to the semi final. Anyway we will watch a recording of this game to learn and avoid committing the same mistakes again.”

A victory for Egypt will put them on the verge of a place at the London Games.

The winners, runners up and third-placed team at the African Championship will directly qualify for the Olympics while the fourth-placed side will have to overcome an Asian representative in a playoff to go through.

Egypt will be boosted by the return from suspension of striker Marwan Mohsen, who usually plays on his own upfront, and midfielder Saleh Gomaa.

Ivory Coast midfielder Kone Moussa believes the Elephants are ready to beat Egypt.

“We respect the Egyptian team. They appeared pacey against Gabon. It will be a tough game resembling a final,” he said.

 “We will do our best to make a good result against Egypt to keep our hopes alive in the competition. I am confident, why would we fear Egypt?”  

South Africa, who have one point, meet Gabon in the other Group B game earlier on Wednesday.

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