When Egypt fell against Nigeria on Wednesday night, they forfeited their prospects of moving on to the next round.
The head coach of the Egyptian under-20 national men’s team, Mahmud Gaber, has given an explanation for why his squad fell short against the Nigerian Flying Eagles.
The former Ismaily boss revealed that his team was under pressure after Solomon Agbalaka scored the solitary goal for the Flying Eagles in the encounter.
For both sides, winning this game was a priority after their disappointing showings in the tournament’s opening games. The young lions of Senegal defeated the Nigerian team, while the four-time winner and highly regarded team, Egypt drew with the second debutant, Mozambique.
Just after the opener, the Nigerian squad and the Egyptian team battled it out at the Cairo International Stadium in an effort to capture their first victory. The match ended with a score of 1-o in favour of the West African team.
The 62-year-old commented on the match’s outcome that his team had been affected by Agbalaka’s 71st-minute goal, which put a lot of pressure on the young Pharaohs.
“The players were very tense after the goal and felt under pressure, and this greatly affected them,” the former Umm Salal manager said as quoted by CAFonline.
Just two of Egypt’s 14 shots on goal were on goal; however, none of their six tries in the first half of the game were successful. The head coach then disclosed that if those opportunities had resulted in goals, they would have defeated the West African powerhouses.
“We missed many opportunities, and if we were focused, we would have decided the match in our favour.” he added.
The manager believes losing some key players to injury before the tournament is one of the causes for their disappointing campaign after the hosts were held to a goalless draw by Mozambique in the tournament opener and now a defeat to Nigeria.
“The injury affected us greatly in the second half. We will not blame the matter on injuries, but we lost many distinguished players before the tournament,” Gaber added.
The manager is certain that the squad will fight to the very end when they face the group leader, Senegal, in their last group game.
“But we are holding on to our hopes and we will fight to complete the campaign. Senegal is a strong team, but we will fight for the victory and to qualify.” Says the head coach.
Meanwhile, if Egypt wins and Nigeria loses against Mozambique, Nigeria’s prospects of moving on to the next round may be diminished.