x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Olympics: Egypt football coach hopes he can keep players

Agreement had been made to return some in the team to clubs and Team GB beat Uruguay to top Group A.

Egypt are through to the quarter-finals. Graham Stuart / AFP
Egypt are through to the quarter-finals. Graham Stuart / AFP

Hany Ramzy, the Egypt manager, is hoping he can retain his captain Mohamed Aboutrika and the striker Emad Moteab for the rest of the Olympic Games after his side qualified for the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Belarus.

Ramzy conceded there had been a previous agreement with the players' club side Al Ahly to let both players return to Egypt for their African Champions League tie with the Ghanian side Berekum Chelsea at the weekend, but the manager will now discuss the possibility of at the very least Aboutrika staying for Saturday's quarter-final at Old Trafford.

He said, "I am hoping the Ahly club will understand we need the experience of these players.

"They may need Emad because I understand one of their strikers is injured, and both are important, but if we could keep even just one player it would be Aboutrika. He has a very good connection with the other players on and off the field and his experience of big competitions is very important for us."

Egypt needed a victory to have a chance of qualifying and Aboutrika rounded off a fine match with the third goal after second-half strikes by Mohamed Salah and Marwan Mohsen had put the game beyond the reach of Belarus.

And Ramzy was happy with how his side adjusted after struggling to create openings in the first 45 minutes.

"We had studied them very well and they played the same way against Brazil as they did today with many players in midfield and defence," he said.

"At half-time we changed the system from a 4-3-2-1 to a 4-2-2-2 and that was a good solution for us as it allowed us to put more pressure on their defence."

Brazil easily defeated New Zealand 3-0 in Group C's other match, despite resting some regular starters.

Already in the next round, Brazil earned the comfortable win with goals by Danilo in the 23rd minute, Leandro Damiao in the 29th and Sandro in the 52nd.

Brazil played a man down from the 76th after Alex Sandro received his second yellow card of the match for diving inside the penalty area.

"I really liked the way the team played," Mano Menezes, the Brazil coach, said. "We did a good job keeping the ball, we didn't rush the plays and that was important, the plays came naturally."

Egypt face Japan in the quarter-finals after the Asian side played out a 0-0 draw with Honduras in Group D. The Hondurans take on Brazil.

Mexico beat Switzerland 1-0 to top Group B with South Korea also going through after a 0-0 draw with Gabon.

Daniel Sturridge’s goal put Great Britain through to the knockout stages of the Olympic football competition as Group A winners and sent Uruguay home.

The Chelsea striker converted a first-half cross from Joe Allen from close range to score the only goal of the game.

Uruguay, and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, had plenty of chances to equalise but could not find the net and go home disappointed after failing to capitalise on their opening game victory over the UAE.

They came closest in injury time when Gaston Ramirez hit a free kick from long range against the cross bar.

Stuart Pearce’s Great Britain will now face South Korea in the quarter-finals, with a tournament favourites Brazil likely to be their last-four opponents if they make it through.

Senegal finished the group as runners-up but they go into the more open side of the draw thanks to Spain’s failure to qualify from Group D.

The Africans take on Mexico, with the winners of that match then playing Japan or Egypt.


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