19 July 2015 10:04
Gabon suffered a shocking 1-0 loss at home to Mali whilst Egypt moved to the brink of a place at the final tournament of the African U-23 Championship Senegal 2015 after a 4-0 drubbing of Uganda on Saturday in Alexandria.
Midfielder Mahmoud Abdel Moneam starred with two well-taken goals, whilst Mohamed Salem and teenage sensation, Ramadan Sobhi also found target to give the Pharaohs a convincing win in the first leg meeting of the final round.
The Kobs are faced with an arduous task of overturning the four-goal deficit against the well determined Egyptian side, dominated by graduates from the victorious African U-20 Championship squad two years ago in Algeria, in the return leg in a fortnight.
Led by out-of-favour Sporting Lisbon defender, Ramy Rabia, Egypt got off well and needed just eight minutes to break the deadlock, Salem heading home from a Mohamed Adel Gomaa cross.
The Pharaohs almost doubled the lead midway through, after Sobhi squared his Ahly teammate Mahmoud Hassan ‘Trezeguet’, but his shot came off the post with Uganda goalie Omar Salim of El-Merreikh fame completely beaten.
The visitors resumed stronger and three minutes into the second half, Egypt goalie Mossad Awad was forced to come off his line to deny Uganda captain Faruku Miya in a one-on-one situation.
The turning point of the game was the introduction of Ahmed Refaat for Trezeguet on 65 minutes, as the ENPPI forward will go on to create assists for the next two goals.
Two minutes after coming on, Refaat passed to Abdel Moneam nicknamed ‘Kahraba’ which means electricity in Arabic, who controlled with his right before firing a spectacular shot from 24-metres which beat Salim for the second goal.
On 80 minutes, Refaat this time put Sobhi through, and the 18-year old exhibited so much maturity, weaving past Uganda defender Richard Kassaga and rounding goalie, Salim before firing into the yawning net to take the game beyond the Kobs.
In added-on time, Abdel Moneam completed the rout in a similar fashion, rounding Omar before slamming into the net.
In Libreville, France-based striker Adama Niane’s 77th minute effort was all Mali needed to beat the reigning champions. It was Niane, who plays for FC Nantes’ fourth goal of the campaign.
Visiting ten-man Zambia held Cote d’Ivoire to a barren draw in Abidjan. Chipolopolo defender Boyd Mkandawire was sent off for a yellow card on 62 minutes, but Fighton Simukonda’s charges held their own against the Ivorians.
The winners at this stage will qualify for the final tournament of the African U-23 Championship scheduled for 28 November to 12 December in Senegal, where the top three teams will represent Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Saturday, 18 July 2015
Gabon 0-1 Mali 15H30 Libreville
Cote d’Ivoire 0-0 Zambia 15H00 Abidjan
Egypt 4-0 Uganda 19H15 Alexandria
Sunday, 19 July 2015
Nigeria vs Congo 16H00 Port Harcourt
Algeria vs Sierra Leone 20H45 Blida
Zimbabwe vs South Africa 15H00 Harare
Morocco vs Tunisia 18H00 Rabat