Egyptians emerged triumphant in the first semi-final of the CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations after defeating Guinea 1-0 to reach the final.
The Young Pharaohs kept alive their hopes of retaining the title and also secured their place in next year’s Olympic Games in Paris thanks to the victory in Tangiers.
Talented midfielder Mohamed Shehata Mahmoud’s fantastic first-half strike was what separated the two sides in the tension-filled encounter in the Moroccan city.
The first opportunity came from Guinea’s side as Ousmane Camara seized the ball following an error by Mohamed Tarek. However, Camara’s shot was deflected by Egyptian goalkeeper Hamza Alaa.
While Guinea dominated the game, the young Pharaohs’ captain, Ibrahim Adel, intercepted the ball and found Mohamed Shehata Mahmoud at the edge of the box. Mahmoud unleashed a powerful strike, securing a 1-0 lead for Egypt.
Guinea now faced the challenge of creating a remarkable comeback. It’s worth noting that since Brazilian coach Micale took charge of the team, Egypt has conceded only one goal, which occurred in a friendly match against Ghana on June 15th.
Unfazed, the Syli National continued their relentless offensive assaults. However, neither Algassime Bah’s free-kick, who was included in the starting line-up after a brief trip to Greece to extend his work visa, nor Aguibou Camara’s charge found the back of the net.
South African referee Tom Abongile blew the whistle for half-time, a period clearly dominated by Guinea in terms of possession. This indicated that Egypt’s place in the final and their journey to Paris was not entirely secure.
As the teams returned to the field, Guinea launched their attacks. Fodé Camara attempted a powerful strike from 30 meters, which was saved by Hamza Alaa in the 57th minute. However, the West Africans made several mistakes in the 70th minute.
Egypt was awarded a free-kick, and Hossam Abdelmaguid’s header breached the goal guarded by Mory Keita. Egypt believed they had secured a decisive lead, but an offside position nullified the goal.
Guinea’s fate hung in the balance as the North Africans began to waste time. Salifou Soumah, who entered the game in the second half, unleashed a magnificent strike but once again faced the firm hand of Egyptian goalkeeper Hamza Alaa in the 88th minute.
The seven minutes of additional time seemed endless for the Egyptians. Unfortunately for Guinea, the score remained unchanged.
Egypt booked their place in the final and also a place at the Olympic Games to be played in Paris next year.
The African champions will defend their title on Saturday at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex.