8 : 7
0 : 2
0 : 1
1 : 0
2 : 1
5 : 6
Men's Olympic Football Tournament: (Africa) Profile and team list
Though Egypt have qualified for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament on 12 previous occasions, they have only played in ten, after dropping out of the 1956 and 1980 editions for political reasons. All of their appearances, with the exception of Barcelona 1992, predate the restructuring of the Olympic tournament as a U-23 competition.
Egypt have survived the group stages only four times, with their best result still their fourth-place finishes at Amsterdam 1928 and Tokyo 1968.
Legendary centre-back Hany Ramzy first took charge of his country’s Olympic squad in 2009. The former Egypt international has proved equally effective as a coach, with his charges destined for their first Olympic appearance in 20 years after taking third at the CAF U-23 Championship in December of last year.
The Baby Pharoahs began the group stages with a convincing 1-0 victory over subsequent champions Gabon, only to lose to Côte d'Ivoire by the same margin in their next game. A 2-0 defeat of South Africa in their final group match was enough to see them through to the semi-finals, where they were beaten 3-2 by hosts Morocco, but an assured 2-0 victory over Senegal in the match for third place guaranteed them a trip to London.
Following the Senegal game, Hany Ramzy declared: “We came here to qualify for the Olympics and we’ve achieved our goal. Tonight we celebrate and then it’s back to Egypt to continue our preparations for London 2012.”
Asked about his side’s ambitions for London 2012, Ramzy was bullish, saying, “We’re not going there just to ‘do well’.” His side’s intensive pre-tournament schedule of nine friendlies and participation in the Toulon Tournament certainly suggests that the Baby Pharoahs are aiming high this year. With the failure of the Egypt senior team to qualify for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2012, fans will hope the U-23 side can provide some much-needed cheer at London 2012.
Facts and figures
Mokhtar Al Tetsh, El Sayed El Dhizuwy, Samir Kottb, Ibrahim Riad, Refaat El Fanagily, Emad Suleiman, Hady Khashba
Ahmed El Shenawy, Shehab El Din Ahmed, Ahmed Sherwida, Marwan Mohsen, Mohamed El Neny
Egypt played nine games en route to qualifying for London 2012, winning five and losing three with just a single draw. They scored 12 goals and conceded six.
The numbers game – The number of players who scored for Egypt in the course of their qualifying campaign. Ahmed Sherwida and Marwan Mohsen both top-scored with three goals apiece.
Coach: Hany RAMZY (EGY)
Unlike their fellow African qualifiers - Egypt and Morocco, who are frequent participants - Gabon are debutants at the Olympics. However, they head to London as champions of the CAF U-23 qualifying tournament, where they shocked the heavily favoured Moroccans in the final after falling a goal behind to the hosts. That surprise success in December of 2011 has continued to fill the Young Panthers with self-belief and ambition. “We are going to play the Olympic Games for the first time after bringing home the first trophy in Gabon history. That makes us very proud, but it is not the end of the story,” said coach Claude-Albert Mbourounot.
The CAF Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year was co-hosted by Gabon, and the event saw some of the youngsters on the U-23 team able to test themselves against the continent’s best. Such was the case for Andre Biyogho Poko, who was a regular starter for senior coach Gernot Rohr, as the team won their three group contests before going out on penalties in the quarter-final. “Having played at the AFCON will help me and the national team a lot at the Olympic Games”, said the 20-year-old Bordeaux midfielder. “Our good results were a major step forward for Gabonese football. We played our first big tournament and gained a lot of experience from it.” Whether one breakout star from the event, 22-year-old striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, will be in the team is a major question mark for the side.
Gabon are taking their place at the head of the African line seriously, and Mbourounot rightly sees the Olympics as a chance for his team to continue their rise up the global ladder. He says that he and his technical staff have worked hard to find new recruits to bolster the side, and that they will be prepared to play together as a unit no matter how difficult the test. “Playing an attractive, lively and spectacular football will be our aim,” he said. “A good result for us would be to go past the first round, to be among the last eight.”
Facts and figures
This is Gabon’s first appearance at the Olympic Games.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Remy Ebanega, Emmanuel Ndong Mba, Allen Nono, Andre Biyogho Poko.
Gabon lost their opening qualifier to Egypt and drew their second to South Africa. But facing elimination at the opening hurdle, they rallied to beat Côte d'Ivoire 3-1 after going behind. They then surprised Group A winners Senegal in the semi-final 1-0 after extra time before taming the expectant Lionceaux in front of their own supporters.
The numbers game
6: The number of players that scored for Gabon, who found the net seven times in their five matches at the CAF U-23 qualifying tournament. Their only multiple goal-getter was Emmanuel Ndong Mba, who tallied a brace against the Ivorians.
Coach: Claude MBOUROUNOT (GAB)
London 2012 will be the seventh time Morocco have competed at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament since their first appearance at Tokyo 1964. It was not until Munich 1972 that the Moroccans began to make headway, going through to the second round after an impressive group performance, though three successive defeats in the next stage ensured they went no further. The Moroccans also subsequently qualified for the Olympic showpiece in 1984, 1992, 2000 and 2004, but failed to make a significant impact.
Dutch coach Pim Verbeek stayed faithful to the tactics he used in the 2011 CAF African U-23 Championship, with his decision to use a number of overseas-based players paying dividends. Among Verbeek’s favourites are midfielder Abdelaziz Barrada, who plays for Spanish side Getafe, and Adnane Tighadouini of Dutch outfit Vitesse.
Following Morocco’s 2-1 defeat by Gabon in the final of the 2011 CAF African U-23 Championship, coach Verbeek declared: “We failed to win the championship but we’ll get our revenge at London 2012. We’re not going just to make up the numbers: we’re aiming for a medal.” The Dutchman has thus set high targets for his players, while he clearly has every confidence they can achieve them.
Facts and figures
Ahmed Faras, Mustafa Merry, Ahmed Bahja, Noureddine Naybet, Salaheddine Aqqal
Abdelaziz Barrada, Younes Mokhtar, Adnane Tighadouini, Driss Fettouhi
Morocco’s performance at the 2011 continental U-23 showpiece was enough to guarantee them a berth at London 2012. After taking second place in Group A behind Senegal they defeated Egypt 3-2 in the semi-final to go through to the final against Gabon, which ensured their safe passage to the Olympic Football Tournament.
The numbers game
3 – The number of goals Morocco put past Egypt in the semi-final of the African U-23 Championship to qualify for London 2012. It is also the total number of goals the team conceded during their two defeats to Senegal and Gabon, 1-0 and 2-1 respectively, at the aforementioned competition.
Coach: Pim VERBEEK (NED)
Senegalwill be one of the first-timers at the Olympic Football Tournament London 2012. After topping their group at the African U-23 Championships they found the going much more difficult in the knockout stages, losing to Gabon in the semi-finals and then missing out on direct qualification after a 2-0 defeat to Egypt in the play-off match. The Lionceaux were given another chance in April's play-off against Oman and this time they were equal to the task as Ibrahima Balde and Abdoulaye Sane gave the West Africans a 2-0 win in Coventry against Oman.
The presentThe team in London will have changed considerably since the African U-23 Championships in Morocco as several players who would have made the Senegal squad for that tournament were not allowed to participate by their European clubs. "We will have a good blend of local and foreign-based players," explained Karim Sega Diouf, who replaced Abdoulaye Sarr as coach after Sarr, who also acted as an assistant for the senior side, was dismissed following the unsuccessful CAF Africa Cup of Nations campaign earlier in the year. A friendly 2-1 defeat in March against Mexico in San Francisco saw a team comprised mainly of local players. It seems likely, though, that the squad in London will have a greater influence of European-based professionals, based in France, Portugal and elsewhere. “Playing at the Olympic Games would be a very special and important event for my career as well as for my country as Senegal have always failed to qualify before now”, said 22-year-old Norway-based Stephane Badji, who received a first call-up for the senior side against South Africa in February.
Senegal are something of promising outsiders at the Olympics. That perspective, of course, does not prevent Lionceaux taking things very seriously. “We are working hard to improve the team. Apart from the technical and tactical aspects, the most important thing that has to be 100 per cent if we want to have success at the Olympics is mental strength and the ability to keep focused”, said deputy coach Aliou Cisse, who was captain for the Lions of Teranga when they made the quarter-finals at the 2002 FIFA World Cup™. Likewise, the event should provide needed tournament expertise for the side. “Playing at the Olympics will be a terrific experience as the road to London has been very long”, said defender Abdoulaye Ba.
Facts and figures
This is Senegal’s first appearance at the Olympic Games.
Ousmane Mane, Abdoulaye Ba, Kara Mbodji, Stephane Badji, Kalidou Yero, Abdoulaye Sane.
Senegal lost their opening qualifier to Algeria, but then recovered to be considered one of the tournament favourites with defeats of Nigeria and Morocco, 2-1 and 1-0 respectively. With momentum gained from topping the table ahead of the Moroccan hosts, Senegal were surprised by Gabon in the semi-final 1-0 and lost the play-off for third place against Egypt 2-0.
The numbers game
1 - The number of goals scored by a Senegal striker at the CAF U-23 finals. Senegal found the net only three times in their five matches with the only tally by a striker scored by Abdoulaye Sane against Nigeria. Kalidou Yero, who usually plays up front for the side, was not released by his Portuguese club Gil Vicente for the event.
Coach: Abdoukarime DIOUF (SEN)
HOSTS COUNTRIES OF NEXT CAF COMPETITIONSOrange CAN 2012
REGULATIONS / PUBLICATIONSCAF Statutes