Egypt have a convincing record at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, standing in 22nd position in the competition's all time ranking out of 80 teams who have ever made it to the finals. The North Africans have made five appearances in the competition, starting with Australia in 1981 when Taher Abuzied finished as one of the top scorers of the tournament with four goals in just three matches. But their most impressive result was achieved 20 years later when they won the bronze medal in Argentina in 2001. The tournament which they host in September and October will provide the young Pharaohs with a chance to compete for the title for the first time in front of their own fans.
Although Egypt qualified automatically for the finals as hosts of the competition, the Egyptian FA insisted that their team should participate in the African Youth Championship that was held this year in Rwanda. They saw it as the perfect opportunity to test their youth side's ability to compete in such competitive circumstances. They started off on the wrong foot by losing to Nigeria 2-0, but soon recovered to beat Côte d'Ivoire and South Africa respectively in their group. However, this was not enough to send them through to the final four, losing out on a place in the semi-finals on goal difference to South Africa. The result was disappointing for the Egyptians and has raised doubts over the young side's ability to fulfil their nation's hopes of winning a medal later this year in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Miroslav Soukup started his career in coaching at Czech side Tatran Prachatice, with whom he won a third-division title in 2002/03, and his success there led to two seasons as assistant coach for top-flight Czech outfit 1.FC Brno. Soukup guided his country, the Czech Republic, to the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 but they lost the title to Argentina. He was scouted by the Egyptian officials at that time who were hunting for a European professional manager who could help their team to reach the final of the same competition two years later. After a few months in charge, he decided to let go of his previous local assistant Rabie Yassin who was credited for formatting the current team and replaced him with former Werder Bremen defender Hany Ramzy.
Goalkeeper Abugabal gave an impressive performance in Rwanda and proved to be the right man to succeed veteran keeper, Essam El Hadary in the Pharaohs' squad. However, arguably the side's brightest prospect is 19 year-old Talaat Mohamed, who has shown immense promise with his stellar performances.
In the 21 games played in the competition they have won seven, drawn four and lost ten. Interestingly, they have scored 25 goals and conceded 31. Egypt's best finish in the competition came at Argentina 2001, when they finished third. Notable members of that side included Mohamed Shawky who currently plays for Middlesbrough in England, former Spurs midfielder Hossam Ghaly and Ahmed Aboumessalem, who recently returned from France to sign for Ismailia.
What they said
"We learned a lot of lessons in Rwanda and hope we can fix our mistakes before the FIFA U-20 World Cup. With the tournament taking place in September and October, we hope we would have enough time to bring new players to the side and give them the experience they lack especially that none of them have broken into the senior teams of their clubs." Miroslav Soukup, Egypt coach.
|5||Moaz EL HENAWY|