Olympic ticket in your pocket. On course for the continental title

AFCON U23 final

The National Eleven will cross swords this Saturday from 9 p.m. at the Moulay Abdellah complex in Rabat, with its Egyptian counterpart for the CAN U23 final, qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

This is the second continental final for a Moroccan team under 23 years old. After missing the first at home in 2011 in front of Gabon, the 2023 generation wants to go through with its African campaign and have the last word against the defending champion.

The Moroccan team, which managed to gain momentum during this African Cup, remains well equipped to negotiate the Egyptian course perfectly. Once qualified for the final, the team immediately set to work preparing for this final outing which should attract a large number of spectators.

The mission will not be an easy task in front of an opponent who showed great things during this AFCON. Except that the group, managed by coach Issam Charaï and counting quality internationals, has all the cards to fully accomplish its task.

If the first objective has been achieved, qualification for the Olympic Games, now focuses on the second objective: African consecration. A scenario so much desired insofar as the Moroccan selections have so far only two continental trophies: an African Cup of Nations in 1976 and a CAN in the junior category in 1997. A third star is long overdue and it it’s time to add a line to the national team record.

Provided that the 2023 edition is the good one and the work of these Atlas Lions who have gained sympathy by producing good quality football. And this, in spite of a sluggish start against Guinea, match won with a narrow score of 2 to 1. During the second meeting, they played, offering themselves Ghana by 5 to 1, before completing the group stage, with a revamped team, with a third victory in a row over Congo (1-0).

During the semi-final, the Moroccan selection was able to win, even if it was painful, to the detriment of Mali after resorting to penalties (2-2, 4-3), while the Egyptian Eleven had outclassed Guinea on the small mark of 1 to 0.

It should be noted that if Morocco and Egypt, as finalists of the tournament, have already secured their tickets to the Olympiad, this is not yet the case for Mali and Guinea, the protagonists of the classification match, who must have Friday evening at the Grand Stade de Tanger. The winner of this confrontation will go to Paris, while the loser will have to play a play-off match against a selection from the Asian continent.

Finally, it should be remembered that national football already has seven participations in the Olympics. This was during the 1964 editions in Tokyo, 1972 in Munich, 1984 in Los Angeles, 1992 in Barcelona, ​​2000 in Sydney, 2004 in Athens and 2012 in London.

Mohamed Bouarab

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