The Young Pharaohs became the first African country to qualify for the finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 after winning their two opening group games at the African championships. The Turkish finals will be the eighth time the north Africans have appeared at the showcase event of youth football and the third time in a row. One of three African countries to have hosted the event (along with Nigeria and Tunisia), Egypt's best performance was in 2001, when Mohamed Shawky and Hossam Ghaly inspired the team to third place. At their last two appearances the side escaped the group stages but were then knocked out in the round of the last-16.
Former Egyptian international Rabie Yassin has built the side around a formidable defence, which allowed only two goals during the continental tournament, Goalkeeper Mossad Awad and captain Ramy Rabia, who has already been capped at senior level, were outstanding throughout. The coach will possibly be worried with his side’s conversion rate, as the seven goals they scored does not reflect the domination that the Young Pharaohs enjoyed in most of their games. Yassin also had to play the final games without top striker Ahmed Hassan "Koka", who returned to his Portuguese club Rio Ave after playing two matches - as agreed with Egyptian officials before the competition started.
Coach Yassin said in Algeria during the African championships that the side had achieved their first goal - to qualify for the World Cup finals. "But after that, we wanted to go on to win the tournament, and I am pleased that we achieved that." After struggling to secure the release of several key players, Yassin is expecting officials to be more forthcoming in allowing their players to represent their country on the world stage. If he gets his best-available squad together for Turkey - where they will face England, Chile and Iraq in the group stage - Egypt could well mount a strong challenge.
|5||Moaz EL HENAWY|