Egypt vs Guinea U23 AFCON review: Defending champions book Olympics spot

Egypt vs Guinea U23 AFCON review: Defending champions book Olympics spot
Credit: Iconsport

The knockout stages of the U23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicked off with a mouthwatering clash between Egypt and Guinea on Tuesday evening. Both teams battled for a place in the final in what turned out to be a tightly-contested fixture.

It's important to point out that Egypt are the defending champions of this competition; they won this tournament four years ago, defeating every opponent in their path. Rogerio Micale's men had a solid group stage run, finishing at the top of Group B with seven points from a possible nine.

On the other hand, Guinea were level on points with Ghana in Group A, but advanced ahead of the Black Meteors on goal difference; they finished second in the group, five points behind group leaders Morocco. It may interest you to know that this is Guinea's first outing in this competition, and they managed to qualify for the semi-finals in their first appearance.

Rogerio Micale's men take an early lead

It's fair to point out that Egypt did not concede a single goal in the group stages of this tournament; they've had the best defense, allowing just two total shots on goal in three group games. However, in the first few minutes of this semi-final, Rogerio Micale's lads allowed as many shots on goal as they did in their first three matches combined.

The Egyptians got an early break in the eighth minute, as Mohamed Shehata found the back of the net with a spectacular effort from outside the box. Interestingly, Egypt had a golden opportunity to double their lead a few minutes later, but Guinea's Mory Keita was able to make the save. The Guineans tried to draw level before half-time, but were unable to breach Egypt's backline.

Second half: Egyptians hold on for the victory

The second half was more of the same; more of Guinea trying to equalize, with more defending from the Egyptians. We've previously mentioned that Egypt allowed just two shots on target in their first three matches. It may interest you to know that Guinea registered a total of 16 shots in this match, with six of them going on target. On the other hand, Rogerio Micale's men had three shots on target from seven total shots. Despite Guinea's best efforts, Egypt were able to hold on for the victory.

What this means for each team

With Tuesday's victory in mind, Egypt have secured an automatic spot in the Summer Olympics in Paris next year; they will also play in the final of this competition, where they'll face tournament hosts Morocco. Given that the hosts have won every match they've played so far, it'll be interesting to see if Rogerio Micale's boys can successfully defend their title.

On the other hand, all is not lost for Guinea. Being the losing team, they'll have a chance to redeem themselves with a third-place match on Friday; this will be against Mali, who lost the other semi-final match. Whoever wins this third-place match will get to steal the last Olympic spot, while the losers will feature in an intercontinental playoff game; where they'll have another opportunity to secure Olympic qualification.

This article was most recently revised and updated 10 months ago

Kelechi is a huge sports fan with over 10 years of betting experience. He has written thousands of match previews on football, tennis, basketball and American football in the past few years.