Egypt did not deserve loss of U-23 African Cup: Coach Micale

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Sunday 9 Jul 2023

Holders Egypt did not deserve to lose to hosts Morocco in the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations final, according to Brazilian coach Rogerio Micale, who pointed to the referee's decisions and other undisclosed factors as contributing to their defeat.

Brazilian coach Rogerio Micale. EFA Facebook Photo


Morocco's under-23 national team claimed victory in the continental tournament final, beating 10-man Egypt 2-1 to clinch their first ever title on Saturday.

In a press conference following the game, Micale voiced his sadness over the outcome, highlighting the outstanding performance delivered by his players.

“I am very sad for losing the title because of reasons unrelated to football. Our players were champions who delivered an outstanding game,” Micale said.

Despite an early goal by midfielder Mahmoud Saber, Egypt's hopes were dashed when Saber received a red card in the 18th minute for a reckless challenge on Moroccan forward Abde Ezzalzouli.

“It was a very big game. We dominated from start until the sending-off of one of our players,” the coach said.

“We managed to survive despite the shortage and we felt we were close to the title, but there were some circumstances unrelated to football,” he said without specifying them.

While congratulating Morocco for their triumph and hosting the tournament, Micale subtly criticized the quality of refereeing.

“Sometimes refereeing is not good enough,” he said.

After the 54-year-old Micale was appointed as coach in August last year, he faced two main challenges: reaching the U23 Africa Cup of Nations finals and qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Egypt, Morocco and Mali, who defeated Guinea in the third-place decider, have already secured their spots in the 2024 Paris Olympics as the top three teams from the tournament.

“I was planning for my project [with Egypt team] to go another way and we had much confidence in our ability to clinch the title,” he explained.

“I want to thank all Egyptian fans for their kind emotions. The loss was out of our hands and this happens in football. We deserved better than this,” the Egypt team coach concluded.

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