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Egypt U-23 victorious in Marrakech

Egypt opened their African Under-23 Championship campaign with a 1-0 win over a solid and pacey Gabonese side in a group B match played in Marrakech on Sunday.

The Egyptians scored in the 50th minute through Mohamed Ahmed Magdy who turned onto a poorly cleared cut back from his teammate Omar Gaber before shooting past Willy Mikiela in goal for Gabon.

 From kick off both sides wasted no time in attacking the respective goals and it was Egypt who created the early chances to score with Gaber, Mohamed El- Baset and Ghaly Salah stretching the Gabonese defence. The Gabonese beefed up the midfield where the Egyptians were outplaying them and had Alexander Ndoumbou combining successfully with Emmanuel Ndong Mba on the right flank. The service to the front man Diderot Lengoulama was limited and erratic, giving the Egyptians time and room to initiate moved from the back.
The Egyptian strikers were finding it hard to convert the chances they created. Chance after chance went begging with the good build ups crumbling in the final third or ending up with the wrong option taken in the box.
When Omar Gaber broke loose on the right wing and crossed into the box looking for team-mates to finish off the pass and Gabonese outstanding back Nenet Ebanega diverted the ball and it seemed another r chance had gone by. Ebenega’s attempted clearance fell kindly to Magdy and he finally made it count much to the delight of coach Hany Ramzi and his bench who were probably beginning to wonder if they were going to score at all.

The goal prompted Gabon into a response and they could have equalised straight after conceding but they fluffed the glorious chance. Some neat passing in the midfield led to a break through the Egyptian defence and Muller Dinda needed to make a precise pass to an unmarked Lengoualama in the box but the heavily weighed pass forced Lengoualama wide and the Egyptians recovered to thwart the chance.

In the 68th minute Egypt should have doubled their lead but three players got in each other’s way and from five meters out they missed the goal. Gabonese grew in ascendency and forced a number of corner kicks as the Egyptians looked contend to protect the slender lead. The last few minutes were anxious for the young Pharaohs and they had goalkeeper Ahmed El Shenawi to thank as he kept out the corner kicks from Gabon who were pushing for the equaliser

Hard working Ndoumbou got a yellow card for a high and clumsy challenge on Gaber as Gabon chased the game with time ticking away. Both coaches brought in fresh players as the game worn out, with Egypt more defensive while Gabon threw numbers upfront but the third match of the first U-23 African Championship ended with the same result, another 1-0 after Morocco and Algeria won by the same margin in Tangiers on Saturday.

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