Egypt, licking their wounds after a disappointing 3-2 defeat at Morocco in the U-23 African Championship semi-final, will be keen to make amends when they play Senegal in Saturday’s third-place playoff.
The young pharaohs missed the first chance to secure automatic qualification for next year’s London Games after losing to hosts Morocco, who outclassed their North African rivals to reach the final.
Senegal were stunned when Gabon struck in the last minute of extra time to defeat them 1-0 and ensure their progress to the Olympics.
Both Egypt and Senegal still have a chance to atone for those defeats and join Morocco and Gabon in the quadrennial showpiece.
The winner will directly go through while the loser will have to overcome an Asian representative in another playoff to avoid missing out on the Olympic Games.
“These boys want to go to London 2012 Olympic Games and the Senegal match will be more like a second final on the 10th here in Marrakech,” Egypt coach Hany Ramzy was quoted as saying by CAFonline.com.
“We played Senegal in a preparatory match for this tournament and they are a tough side so l expect a difficult match but we will put up another solid football display like we did tonight and hopefully come out successful.”
Egypt, who conceded only one goal in the group stage, were uncommonly shaky at the back against Morocco, with their defensive woes allowing Morocco to launch a wave of attacks and score three goals.
Morocco could have won with a wider margin hadn’t it been for some impressive saves from Egypt’s promising goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawy.
The visitors managed to create several goal-scoring chances though but were let down by poor finishing.
“Our performance tonight had a number of positives which l would like us to build on for the next match so congratulations to Morocco and as for us we live to fight another day,” Ramzy said following the defeat, which put on hold Egypt’s hope to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1992.
Ramzy, who was part of Egypt’s squad at the 1990 World Cup, will have a fully-fit squad to choose from.
Senegal’s Kara Modu said he expects a tough tie between the two sides.
“The two sides for this match need no better motivation than the automatic place at the Olympic finals, that is why l am expecting a very competitive game on Saturday and Senegal will be ready for Egypt,” he said.