After securing their place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, hosts Egypt face Cote d’Ivoire in the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations final this Friday, with a new Champion waiting to be crowned at the 3rd edition of the tournament.
Starting in 2011, Gabon and Nigeria claimed the first two titles of the tournament that serves also as the final stage of African qualifications to the Olympics.
This year a new champion will be revealed at the famous Cairo International Stadium, with The Olympic Pharaohs and Les Elephants hoping to raise the trophy, and add more joy to that they already celebrated.
For hosts Egypt, it would be a great reward to their faithful supporters who were left in tears last July, after seeing their senior side crashing out the Round of 16 of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations at home.
The U-23 class captured people’s hearts with their impressive football, as they grabbed a ticket to next summer Olympics, and want now to add a new title to their cabinet.
Four successive victories over Mali, Ghana, Cameroon and South Africa paved Shawky Gharib’s men road to the final, with the likes of skipper Ramadan Sobhy and top scorer Mostafa Mohamed producing some inspirational performances.
The public mood elevated with every game, to the extent that some 70,000 supporters poured to Cairo Stadium to watch the semifinal game, and the same amount is expected on Friday night.
On the other hand, Cote d’Ivoire secured their second ever Olympics appearance, as they are eyeing the title for the first time in their history.
Soulaiho Haidara’s team was considered the underdogs as the tournament started, but they proved the opposite with each game.
Victories over holders Nigeria and pre-tournament favorites Zambia guided Les Elephants to the semis despite a defeat to South Africa in between.
They needed a shootout to overcome Ghana’s Black Meteors and confirm their ticket to Tokyo.