Egypt clinched a place at the 2012 London Olympics while outsiders Gabon won the first CAF U-23 title as the championship closed Saturday in the central Moroccan city of Marrakech. Mohamed Abdelbaset struck in the first half and Saleh Gomaa added a second after half-time as the 'Baby Pharaohs' outplayed Senegal 2-0 in a third place play-off of unusual importance.
The victory earned them a bronze medals from CAF and qualification for the Olympics with Gabon and Morocco, who secured places this week by winning the African championship semi-finals. Despite wasting two chances to book a place in London next July by losing to Gabon and Egypt, Senegal can still make it if they win a play-off next April against the fourth-place finishers in the Asian qualifiers.
Considered no-hopers before the eight-nation CAF tournament kicked off in Tangiers and Marrakech 14 days ago, Gabon came from behind to triumph 2-1 against a Moroccan side lacking star midfielder Abdelaziz Barrada. Recalled by Spanish La Liga club Getafe after a thrilling semi-final win over Egypt, Barrada was sorely missed although the host nation did forge ahead midway through the opening half thanks to Younes Mokhtar.
Gabon, appearing in the final of a CAF national team competition for the first time, struck back with Landry Obiang levelling and Allen Nono snatching the decisive goal four minutes before half-time. Morocco had goalkeeper Yassine El Kharroubi sent off for fouling Nono as tempers flared during the second half and Gabon midfielder Ibrahim Ndong was dismissed for a blatant stoppage-time shoulder charge.