Egypt opened their U-23 AFCON campaign against Mali on Friday night at the Cairo International Stadium to begin their potential appearance to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Egypt last participation in the football Olympics was 7 years ago when they suffered a 3-0 defeat in the hands of Japan to exit the quarter finals of London 2012 Olympic Games.
Coming into the game, a win was the only thing that would boost the chances of Shawky Gharieb’s side of making to Tokyo 2020.
The game was a balance one inside the first ten minutes, but hosts Egypt began warming themselves into the game and broke the deadlock on the 29’ minute. Aboul-Fotouh whipped in a teasing cross inside Mali penalty box, and Zamalek’s in-form striker Mostafa beats his marker to send a powerful header home.
After the goal, there was nothing much both sides could offer in the first half, especially from Egypt who’s supporters have high expectations.
Four minutes into the game, Mali nearly got the equalizer as a far-post header from Aly Mallé was blocked by keeper Mohamed Sobhi, and a fierce shot from Ibrahim Kane on the follow-up went over the bar.
The second half was almost an all Malian affair as they continued to pile pressure on Egypt but 88’ minute fine save from Sobhi after Boubacar Traore has sent in a thunder boast denied the away side a deserving equalizer.
Egypt have picked it first three points after the slim win and will face Ghana on Monday at this same venue.
Egypt XI: Mohamed Sobhi, Osama Galal, Ahmed Ramadan, Mohamed Abdel Salam, Ahmed Aboul Fotouh, Akram Tawfiq, Karim Al-Iraqi, Ramadan Sobhi, Naser Maher, Salah Mohsen, Mostafa Mohamed.