Japan - Egypt Preview: Takashi Sekizuka's team aiming to reach semi-finals after shocking Group D
The Blue Samurai are hoping to reach the last four at Old Trafford after surprising pre-tournament favourites Spain to top Group D, but must overcome a strong Pharaoahs side
By Jordan Halford
Muramatsu, Hiroki Sakai, Yoshida, Suzuki
Otsu, Yamamurt, Usami, Yamaguchi
Fathi, Fathy, Hegazy, Ramadan
Gaber, Hassan, Gomaa, El-Nenny
Takashi Sekizuka's team surprised pre-tournament favourites Spain on the opening day at Hampden Park, beating 10-man La Roja courtesy of Yuki Otsu's 34th-minute strike.
The Blue Samurai went on to comfortably top Group D after a 1-0 win and goalless draw with Morocco and Honduras respectively, and will be hoping to secure their passage to the semi-finals for the first time since they won bronze in 1968.
The 2010 Asia Games champions are likely to stick with the same side that were held by second-place Honduras.
Egypt, meanwhile, secured their passage to the quarter-final with a 3-1 win over Belarus to clinch second place in Group C behind gold medal favourites Brazil after a 3-2 defeat to Canarinho and a 1-1 draw with New Zealand.
The Pharoahs were backed to make the final by Red Devils coach Georgi Kondratyev, but the Africans are set to lose captain Mohamed Aboutrika and striker Emad Moteab, who will return to their club side Al Alhy ahead of their African Champions League clash with Ghanaian side Berekum Chelsea.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Japan's last appearance in an Olympic quarter-final was at Sydney 2000, when they drew 2-2 with the United States.
- The Blue Samurai last reached an Olympic semi-final in 1968, suffering a 5-0 hammering at the hands of eventual gold medallists Hungary.
- They did, however, beat Mexico 2-0 to clinch the bronze medal that year.
- Japan's first ever Olympic quarter-final was at the Berlin Games in 1936, where they suffered an 8-0 defeat against 1934 World Cup and eventual gold medallists Italy.
- Takashi Sekizuka's (pictured right) team were the first Japan side to defeat Spain at any level, when they beat La Roja 1-0 at Hampden Park in their first Group D clash.
- Japan finished bottom of their group in the last Olympics in Beijing, having lost all three fixtures.
- Egypt have not qualified for an Olympic Games since Barcelona 1992, where they crashed out in the first round.
- The Pharoahs have reached the quarter-finals on four occasions, bowing out at Paris 1924 and Los Angeles in 1984.
- They did, however, reach the bronze medal match in Amsterdam in 1928 and Tokyo in 1964, but missed out on a medal on both occasions.
- Egypt have won the gold medal at the All-Africa Games on two occasions, Nairobi 1987 and Herare 1995, and a bronze in Lagos in 1973.
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Top 3 Predictions
Japan Under 23 2-1 Egypt U-23
- 21.35 %
Japan Under 23 2-0 Egypt U-23
- 14.11 %
Japan Under 23 1-2 Egypt U-23
- 12.76 %
|Olympic Games (OLY)||4 Aug 2012||Japan Under 23 3 - Egypt U-23 0|
|Japan Under 23|
|10 Aug 2012||South Korea Under 23 2 - Japan Under 23 0||OLY|
|7 Aug 2012||Mexico U-23 3 - Japan Under 23 1||OLY|
|4 Aug 2012||Japan Under 23 3 - Egypt U-23 0||OLY|
|1 Aug 2012||Japan Under 23 0 - Honduras Under 23 0||OLY|
|29 Jul 2012||Japan Under 23 1 - Morocco U-23 0||OLY|
|-||Ahmed Al Shenawy||Goalkeeper|
|22||Mohammed Abu Trika||Midfielder|
|17||Mohamed El Nenny||Midfielder|
|11||Mohamed Salah Ghaly||Striker|
|-||Mahmoud Alaa Eldin||Defender|
Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Yuki Otsu scored the winning goal at Hampden Park that shocked the tournament favourites Spain and has enjoyed an impressive tournament since. The 22-year-old has been a key figure for the Blue Samurai's Under-23 squad, scoring two goals in Olympic qualification and also against Mexico in a pre-tournament friendly at Nottingham Forest's City Ground.
|Mohamed Salah Ghaly|
Versatile striker Mohamed Salah has scored in each of The Pharoahs games in Group C. Following the Port Said Stadium disaster in February, the Egyptian Premier League season was postponed, meaning Salah played solely for the under-23 national team before his departure to Switzerland.
Japan head into the game at Old Trafford in impressive from, without conceding a goal in the tournament so far and having stunned Spain to finish top of Group D. But, after a dour goalless draw with Honduras, they'll have to improve to prevent the free-scoring Egyptians from progressing to the semi-finals.
The Pharoahs, however, are still sweating on the availability of their skipper Mohamed Aboutrika and striker Emad Moteab and despite having scored six goals so far, their defence is far from water-tight.
The first goal in this game is crucial and if Egypt get it, Japan will have to chase the game for the first time in the tournament.