14 September 2015 02:26
Tunisia U-23 coach, Maher Kanzari has described the Olympic Games “an amazing experience” and one that every player aspires to have a feel of.
Kanzari, who participated at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA, as a player told cafonline.com moments after the draw for the final tournament of the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations Senegal 2015 on Monday at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, he is looking forward to have a feel of the multisport event again, but as a coach this time.
And the road to that dream starts at the second edition of the eight-team continental championship, which will see the top three teams confirming their places as Africa’s representatives for Brazil.
Tunisia are drawn in Group A with hosts Senegal, South and Zambia for the championship that will run from 28 November to 12 December 2015 in the cities of Dakar and M’Bour.
Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Nigeria make up Group B.
“All eight teams are the best at this level, with an equal chance. Senegal appears to have an edge because they are the hosts and will have the fans behind them,” he said.
With three places at stake, the 42-year old expects a tough competition with each of the participating teams’ eye on the Olympics.
“All the teams will do their best to succeed and qualify for the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games is a fantastic event which comes once in a lifetime and all the players will do their best to be at such a tournament.
“I played at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games and it was an amazing experience. I think it is even better than the World Cup. It will be fantastic for me to be at the Olympics as a player and as a coach.”
Some of Kanzari’s mates at the 1996 event where the Carthage Eagles bowed out win-less included Khaled Badra, Zoubeir Baya, Hassan Gabsi, Kaies Ghodhbane, Adel Sellimi, Riadh Bouazizi, Radhi Jaïdi and Mehdi Ben Slimane.
The Tunisia coach is optimistic that the tournament will generate a huge interest just as the globally acclaimed Africa Cup of Nations with some of the best talents in African football on parade.
“Technically, it will be a good tournament, may be even better than the Africa Cup of Nations. However, it remains an open contest amongst the eight teams,” he concluded.
On his part, Ayman Hafiz, Team Manager of the Egyptian U-23 expects a tough opposition from regional rivals, Algeria, Mali and Nigeria.
“We cannot underestimate any of our opponents. They are all strong teams. We have to start following Algeria closely and so are the Mali and Nigeria. We have start our preparations in earnest because it would be a strong and difficult tournament.
“Our team has been working together for two years and we have a special generation. They were African Youth champions in 2013, and most of them are regulars at their clubs. They are very ambitions and expectations are high of them as well.”
Egypt holds the record for the most appearances at the Olympic Games, 11; as recent as the 2012 edition in London. The Pharaohs finished third at the maiden edition of the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2011.
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