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U23 side finally gives Egyptian fans something to cheer about
Published in Ahram Online on 22 - 11 - 2019

A few months ago, Egyptian football fans were in for a big disappointment -- their national team exited the African Nations Cup in an embarrassing fashion in Cairo.
Roaring them on to go all the way, a sell-out crowd saw Egypt concede a late goal against South Africa to bow out at the last-16 stage for the team's worst ever performance as hosts.
However, the U23 national team made some amends, winning the Nations Cup on Friday to cap an exciting campaign that saw them display a pretty brand of attacking football.
They beat Cote d'Ivoire 2-1 after extra time to lift the trophy for the first time, having earlier qualified for next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo after reaching the Nations Cup final.
Coach Shawky Gharib knows best when it comes to managing young teams, having led the U19 side to a third-place finish at the 2001 World Championship.
He masterminded Friday's triumph and will be the man entrusted with taking Egypt far at the Olympics next summer.
"It was so important to make all those people happy," Gharib told beIN Sports after the match, pointing to the supporters.
"Three months ago, they left the stadium unhappy, but today it's another story."
Gharib said he never had doubts even after Cote d'Ivoire forced an extra time when substitute Aboubacar Doumbia struck with one minute remaining.
Ramadan Sobhi, who also created the first goal, netted the winner in the 114th minute when he buried home a rebound after a low shot was parried by the keeper into his path.
"I didn't feel that we were going to lose the match; I trusted my scenario," Gharib added.
"Now I'm finally going to sleep well."
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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