21 November 2019 – After securing their place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, hosts Egypt face Cote d’Ivoire in the Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations final on Friday (22 November 2019), 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.
*** South Africa will face Ghana in the 3rd/4th Place Play-off. The winner will join Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire as representatives of the African continent at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games ***
Friday 22 November 2019
Egypt v Cote d’Ivoire
Cairo International Stadium
(20:00 local time, 18:00 GMT)
What they said:
Shawky Gharib (Coach, Egypt)
I hope the final is going to be a match for the fans to enjoy. Our target is the title now after we secured our place in the Olympics which was our initial goal. I thank our supporters and ask them to come one more time. Those players will be the backbone of the senior team very soon. Cote d’Ivoire is a very good team and I hope we both give a good image for African football.
Ramadan Sobhi (Captain, Egypt)
We are happy with what we have done till now and now we play for the title. It’s true our target was the Olympics ticket but that doesn’t mean we will take things lightly against Cote d’Ivoire. The huge support is not a source of pressure, on the contrary it gives us morale boast. We want the title as a gift to our supporters.
Soualiho Haidara (Coach, Cote d’Ivoire)
This is our fifth game in two weeks and this is a massive effort. The absent players won’t affect my team and any 11 who will play will do the job. Egypt is a great team and we respect them much, but we will give them a fight for the cup.
Ismail Diallo (Captain, Cote d’Ivoire)
We will give our best. Now we already qualified to the Olympics we will play with no pressure. We just want the people of Cote d’Ivoire to be proud of us.