Egypt vs Belarus preview: One last chance
Match: Egypt vs Belarus
Competition: London 2012 Olympics – Group C
Venue: Hampden Park, Glascow, Scotland
Time: Wednesday August 1st 2012; 15:30 Egypt local time (GMT +2)
TV Listing: Al Jazeera Sport 2
Egypt and Belarus face-off in their final group stage fixture. The two sides will be scrapping for the last quarter-final spot from Group C, after Brazil already booked their presence. The Young Pharaohs have only taken a point from their first two matches, after losing to Brazil, and a disappointing draw with New Zealand. Egypt are on a mission to prove that they got what it takes to be one of the 8 teams battling to reach the semi finals. While ambitious Belarus aim to build on their youths’ success after finishing 3rd in the 2011 U21 European championship. Ramzy’s squad will fight till their last breath in order to achieve an unprecedented achievement, and fulfill their promise – to win a medal at the Olympic Games.
Don’t expect Hany Ramzy to make many changes despite Egypt’s poor finishing against New Zealand. Ramzy has backed striker Emad Metab – who should’ve at least had a brace – after his horrendous miss in the dying minutes, “I won’t criticize a single player for a miss when all the team had missed tens of chances.” The only other striking option is U23 top scorer Marwan Mohsen, but Metab’s experience and Ramzy’s backing will likely see him retain his spot in the starting XI. Shehab Ahmed should also be taken into consideration for a more defensive presence in the midfield instead of Saleh Gomaa. The only confirmed change to be made is centre-back Mahmoud Alaa who’s suspended after picking up his 2nd consecutive yellow card. We tip off Ahly’s Saad Samir to fill the whole in the back-line.
Probable starting XI: Ahmed El Shennawy; Islam ‘Milo’ Ramadan, Saad Samir, Ahmed Hegazy, Ahmed Fathi; Mohamed El Nenny, Shehab El-Din Ahmed, Hossam Hassan; Mohamed Abou Treika, Mohamed Salah; Emad Metab.
For a team who only need a draw to advance, Belarus will likely field a balanced side to mobilize Egypt’s attack. There are only two members of Belarus’ squad who are based outside of their home country – goalkeeper Filip Vaytekhovich who plays for Sweden’s IK Frej and striker Sergei Kornilenko with Krylia Sovetov Samara in Russia. This must be a huge factor for their team’s decent chemistry; very much like the Egypt’s. The Belarus U23 national team compromises of many players who reached the semi-finals of the 2011 U21 European championship. Considering they were also leading against Brazil, this will be an extremely difficult challenge for the Pharaohs.
Probable starting XI: Gutor; Kuzmianok, Politevich, Polyakov; Baga, Dragun, Kozlov, Gordeychuk, Bressan; Kornilenko, Aleksievich.
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
The boy is simply on fire. His blistering speed is proving to be more than a handful for defenses to handle after scoring a goal in each of Egypt’s first two matches. Refer to our Olympic Profile on Mohamed Salah for a more tactical assessment on the FC Basel winger.
Renan Bressan (Belarus)
Bressan is the man to watch from Belarus. The Brazil-born talented midfielder has been one of the team’s best performers in the first two matches. He gave Belarus the lead against the Brazilians, before eventually losing 3-1 to the gold-medal favorites in Old Trafford.
Prediction: Egypt 2-1 Belarus
Egypt need to remain organized throughout the match, not panicking to score. When the Pharaohs go all out in attack, as they did against New Zealand, the defense becomes extremely fragile on the counter. Belarus only need a point to advance, but if they decide to sit-back and settle for a draw, they’ll be punished. Defensive stability will be the key to the three points, but that is easier said than done against a talented side like Belarus.
Thanks to Ziad Ibrahim for his special contribution with this piece.