Preview: Egypt's U-20 banking on efficiency in tough World Cup campaign

Ahram Online, Saturday 22 Jun 2013

Rabie Yassine's Young Pharaohs face Chile in their opening game of the U-20 World Cup in Turkey on Sunday

Egypt U-20 team
Egypt won the U-20 African Championship in Algeria earlier this year (photo: Ahram)

Egypt will bank on the efficiency that propelled them to African glory when they begin a tough U-20 World Cup campaign against Chile on Sunday.

The young Pharaohs, who conceded just two goals en route to African Championship triumph in Algeria earlier this year, are lauded for a resolute defence, compact midfield and effective attack despite the lack of a stand-out player.

Reaching the knockout phase is usually an easy task for Egypt, given that the top four third-place finishers also seal a last-16 place, but they are facing one of their biggest challenges in over a decade after being drawn in a tough Group E that also includes Chile, England and Iraq.

"This is one of the strongest groups in the tournament, if not the toughest. Our three competitors are physically and technically gifted," Egypt coach Rabie Yassine told FIFA.com.

"Iraq are very strong. They didn’t lose any matches at last year’s AFC Championship, finishing as runners up following a defeat in penalty shootout in the final. Their squad includes eight players who already represent the senior Iraqi side.

"As for Chile, they are powerful in attack and pose threat to any opponents. For England, being one of the European representatives at the World Cup speaks volumes about their capabilities."

Disappointing displays

Egypt were hardly convincing during their pre-tournament friendlies, having produced some mediocre displays in a 2-2 draw with Romania, 3-1 loss to Montenegro and 1-0 defeat by Brazil.

They later crushed Kosovo 8-0 and beat New Zealand 2-1 but local media still have doubts over whether Egypt can replicate their African Championship form.

"The players reached their top form and are now ready to play any team in the World Cup," Yassine told a media briefing.

Egypt open their campaign against Chile in Antalya before meeting Iraq on Wednesday and England on Saturday.

Yassine also said skipper and influential defender Rami Rabia would be available for the tournament after recovering from injury. He is uncertain to start against Chile though.

Egypt's best position at the World Cup was a third-place finish at 2001 edition in Argentina.

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