Egypt
© AFP

The past
Though Egypt have qualified for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament on 12 previous occasions, they have only played in ten, after dropping out of the 1956 and 1980 editions for political reasons. All of their appearances, with the exception of Barcelona 1992, predate the restructuring of the Olympic tournament as a U-23 competition.

Egypt have survived the group stages only four times, with their best result still their fourth-place finishes at Amsterdam 1928 and Tokyo 1968.

The present
Legendary centre-back Hany Ramzy first took charge of his country’s Olympic squad in 2009. The former Egypt international has proved equally effective as a coach, with his charges destined for their first Olympic appearance in 20 years after taking third at the CAF U-23 Championship in December of last year.

The Baby Pharoahs began the group stages with a convincing 1-0 victory over subsequent champions Gabon, only to lose to Côte d'Ivoire by the same margin in their next game. A 2-0 defeat of South Africa in their final group match was enough to see them through to the semi-finals, where they were beaten 3-2 by hosts Morocco, but an assured 2-0 victory over Senegal in the match for third place guaranteed them a trip to London.

Following the Senegal game, Hany Ramzy declared: “We came here to qualify for the Olympics and we’ve achieved our goal. Tonight we celebrate and then it’s back to Egypt to continue our preparations for London 2012.”

The future
Asked about his side’s ambitions for London 2012, Ramzy was bullish, saying, “We’re not going there just to ‘do well’.” His side’s intensive pre-tournament schedule of nine friendlies and participation in the Toulon Tournament certainly suggests that the Baby Pharoahs are aiming high this year. With the failure of the Egypt senior team to qualify for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2012, fans will hope the U-23 side can provide some much-needed cheer at London 2012.  

Facts and figures
Former stars

Mokhtar Al Tetsh, El Sayed El Dhizuwy, Samir Kottb, Ibrahim Riad, Refaat El Fanagily, Emad Suleiman, Hady Khashba

Key players
Ahmed El Shenawy, Shehab El Din Ahmed, Ahmed Sherwida, Marwan Mohsen, Mohamed El Neny

Qualifying statistics
Egypt played nine games en route to qualifying for London 2012, winning five and losing three with just a single draw. They scored 12 goals and conceded six.

The numbers game
8
– The number of players who scored for Egypt in the course of their qualifying campaign. Ahmed Sherwida and Marwan Mohsen both top-scored with three goals apiece.