En route to Rio (Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt))

As well as qualifying to the African Cup of Nations, the Under 23 Egyptian National team took their first step towards the 2016 Brazil Olympics, after defeating Uganda 6-1 on aggregate after a 2-1 away in Uganda thanks to star player Mahmoud Kahraba who scored both goals before Uganda scored a late consolation goal.

Two weeks ago, the national team led by manager Hossam El-Badry defeated Uganda at home 4-0 in the first leg match in Cairo. Teams that place first, second and third in the African Cup of Nations will qualify to the Olympics. Egypt has a very good chance since El-Badry – Ahli’s former coach – has built an extraordinary team that is very likely to compete for the title, not just win one of three places going to the Olympics.

El-Badry was delighted after qualifying for the African Cup of Nations, and promised to compete for the title as well as qualify for next year’s Olympics. El-Badry had rejected an offer to take over El-Ahly when the Spanish tactician Juan Carlos Garrido left the club, saying he wanted to continue the journey until the end with the national team and reach the Olympics.

Future superstars Ramadan Sobhy and Saleh Gomaa did not even play in the first half of the game, which shows the talent of the squad. After a 4-0 win in the first leg, it was feared U-23 players would be complacent in Uganda, but Badry had prepared his young guns to win. They were determined and committed from the first minute, and Kahraba’s brace sealed the game rendering Uganda’s late consolation goal meaningless.

Kahraba was the star of both the match and series against Uganda, since he scored two goals in the first leg as well, bringing his total to four out of the six goals scored by the national team in the series. At 21 years old, Kahraba’s skills were apparent in the Swiss league for Luzern and then Grasshoppers, before he returned to his old club Enppi. He is set to join league winners this week after both clubs agreed on a fee for the talented attacker.

Mohamed Salem and rising star Sobhy scored the other two goals in the Uganda series. One of the best performers in both games was El Ahly’s Mahmoud Trezeguet who is wanted by the Belgian team Anderlecht. The club reportedly sent representatives to negotiate a deal with El Ahly for Trezeguet, which said it will not stand in the player’s way if their price for him is met.

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