July 02, (THEWILL) – The TotalEnergies CAF Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations 2023 has reached the semi-final stage in Morocco, promising fiercely contested matches, as teams vie for a place in the final and the opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Tournament hosts, Morocco and Guinea, emerged as the qualifiers from Group A, while defending champions, Egypt and Mali, secured their spots from Group B. Egypt, despite a slow start, will face Guinea in the first semi-final clash on Tuesday, in Tangier, while Morocco, topping their group with an impressive performance, will go head-to-head against Mali.
Heading into the semi-finals, Egypt boasts a solid record of seven points, scoring three goals and conceding none. However, they will need to be cautious against a tactically astute Malian team that has netted five goals while conceding two. Coach Mario Rogerio Reis Micale acknowledged the challenge ahead: “Our upcoming opponents, Mali, are a formidable team, and the match will be highly demanding. We need to work hard and maintain focus for this encounter.”
Morocco, buoyed by their home crowd support, will rely on leading striker Adessamad Ezzalzouli, who has three goals to his name, as they aim for quick qualification to the Olympics. Coach Issame Charaï laid bare the team’s determination, when he said: “We treat every match as if it were a final because our goal is to qualify for the Olympics and clinch the championship title.”
To reach the knockout stage, Morocco kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 victory over Guinea, followed by a resounding 5-1 win against Ghana. They sealed their progression with a 1-0 triumph over Congo Brazzaville in a Saturday night match.