Coach Shawky Gharib is upbeat about Egypt’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Tokyo 2020 men’s Olympics in football despite losing to Argentina on Sunday.
In their first game in the tournament, the reigning African champions put up a solid defensive performance to hold Spain to a 0-0 draw.
Against the Argentines who made a stuttering start against Australia, the North Africans bowed 1-0 with Facundo Medina’s 52nd-minute effort settling the tough encounter at the Sapporo Dome.
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Although the South Americans dominated ball possession, nevertheless, Egypt squandered a host of opportunities in the first half. That continued in the last 45 minutes and ultimately, they ended up on the losing side.
Victory over Olyroos in their final Group C game on Wednesday at the Miyagi Stadium, Rifu may see them through and Gharib is remaining optimistic.
“When an Egyptian player loses focus, it becomes a problem. Argentina scored their only dangerous chance of the game,” Gharib told beIN Sport TV per Kingfut.
“This is football, you have to take your chances. We are still working, and we have a chance to qualify, we haven’t lost hope.”
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah and Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny did not make the Games as their English top-flight sides declined to release them.
Another notable star who did not make the final shortlist was Zamalek loanee Mostafa Mohamed who has been impressive in the Turkish Super Lig with Galatasaray.
“I have Ahmed Yasser Rayan, the top scorer of the league, and I have Taher Mohamed, Ramadan Sobhi and Salah Mohsen,” said the coach, who refused to make excuses due to the unavailability of star players.
“Mostafa Mohamed is a big star, and the team’s top scorer and he would have made us stronger. But I will not use his absence as an excuse.”
Since making their debut at Antwerp 1920, Egypt have featured in the men’s football event on 12 occasions.
Their best outings remain fourth-place finishes at Amsterdam 1928 and Tokyo 1964.