Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Home » U23 AFCON 2023: Morocco and Egypt Reach the Final and Paris 2024

U23 AFCON 2023: Morocco and Egypt Reach the Final and Paris 2024

by Prasad Banda
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Morocco and Egypt have qualified for the final of the CAN U23 after defeating Mali and Guinea respectively on penalties. Both teams have also qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Football Tournament.

Morocco through thick and thin
Morocco keep the party going on home soil. Hosts of the U23 AFCON, the Atlas Cubs qualified for the final of this year’s tournament by overcoming Mali, but not without a struggle. At the end of a match during which the Moroccans and Malians went head to head, the decision was finally made on penalties (2-2, 4 penalties to 3). The Moroccans had got their semi-final off to a perfect start, with Zakaria El Ouahdi finishing off a team move to open the scoring (14th). The massed crowd thought the hard part was over, but Mali pushed on to level the scores. More incisive after the break, the Aiglons were rewarded when Mamady Diambou beat the Moroccan keeper on the edge of the penalty area (66′)

The two teams were unable to force a decision in normal time and extra time was needed. The game was spiralling out of control and El Ouazzani put his side back in front (108′). But once again, Mali responded, this time through Issoufi Maïga at the far post, pushing the ball into an empty net (116′). The decider came in the penalty shoot-out, and Morocco made no mistake when Boubacar Traoré and Ahmed Diomande both missed. These misses meant qualification for Morocco, who thus join holders Egypt in the final and qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the same time.

Egypt makes it through

In the other semi-final played earlier in the day, it was Egypt who booked their place in the final. Facing Guinea in the semi-finals on Tuesday, the defending champions lived up to their billing. It was all thanks to a short but precious victory (1-0) in a match that failed to live up to all its promise. It was the Guineans who got off to the better start, but they were caught out by their first mistake, Mohamed Shehata’s unstoppable shot from the edge of the box (9th). It was enough to make the Egyptians happy, and they went on to manage the match and hold off the Guinean onslaught until the final whistle.

Morocco vs Egypt will therefore be the main attraction of this CAN U23 final, while the Malians and Guineans will have to get their act together quickly. They will be contesting the small final, with 3rd place on the podium at stake and, above all, the last direct qualifying ticket for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Source : SportNewsAfrica

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