Egypt’s U23 national football team coach Shawki Gharib revealed that he is optimistic with the players he chose to take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games despite missing key in-form players like Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and Galatasaray striker Mostafa Mohamed.
Gharib picked up Ahly's veteran goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, Zamalek's Mahmoud El-Wensh and Ittihad Jeddah's defender Ahmed Hegazy to fill in the three over-age players in the squad.
Olympics regulations for football tournaments state that each team is allowed to include three over-age players, while the rest of the players must be under 23 years of age.
"El-Shennawi was among our choices in the Olympic team's squad but we delayed the final announcement after Ahly reached the African Champions League final," Gharib told a television programme.
"I spoke with El-Shennawi and he is ready for the Tokyo Olympic Games after finishing participation with his team in the Champions League final,"
Gharib also called up another five Ahly players, defender Ahmed Ramadan, midfielders Akram Tawfik, Nasser Maher and Taher Mohamed Taher and striker Salah Mohsen to take part in the Olympic team's squad after finalising their mission with the Red Devils in the African Champions League final on 17 July.
"Tokyo Olympic Games Organising Committee informed us that if Ahly players arrived on 19 July, they will miss Egypt's first game against Spain so we had to receive an exception especially since we won't have a replacement goalkeeper in the game," the U23 team coach said.
"Ahly players will arrive in Tokyo on 18 July after finishing participation in the African Champions League final,"
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) made late desperate attempts to have Salah and Mohamed available for the Olympics but Liverpool and Galatarasaray turned down their requests.
"We hoped Mostafa Mohamed and Mohamed Salah would take part in our squad, as our opponents know well the importance of the two players," the Egypt U23 team coach said.
The Pharaohs were drawn in a tough group at the Olympic Games, facing off against heavyweights Spain, Argentina, and Australia.
The 2012 quarterfinalists will open their campaign against Spain on 22 July before facing Argentina three days later and Australia on 28 July.
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