Morocco Shines in CAF U-23 and Qualifies for Olympics

Moroccan football fans are no doubt delighted that their national U-23 team has qualified to compete in the Olympic Games taking place in London in 2012. In an exciting game played in Marrakech earlier this week, Morocco beat Egypt 3-2 in what proved to be an all-out battle between two well matched world-class teams. This leaves Egypt and Senegal to face one another on Saturday 10 December in order to claim the honor of competing at the Olympics.

The Morocco-Egypt football clash appeared to be a give-away as Morocco’s Abdelaziz Barrada made two early goals, but Egypt fought back in a display of endurance and skill, managing to score two goals, before losing to Morocco with their 3 goals. Barrada opened the scoring in the first minute of Wednesday’s game, as he broke down the left wing and scored from inside the area. Eight minutes later he managed to pick up Adnane Tighadouini’s shot which rebounded off Ahmed El Shenawi, the goalkeeper for Egypt. Egypt retaliated with the goal scored by Mohamed Salah just ten minutes before half-time. Egypt’s El Shenawi managed to prevent Barrada from scoring a third goal, which would have earned him a first-half hat-trick, but the Moroccan team went on to score a third goal in the second half of the game, with Egypt following with their second goal.

Morocco made its first appearance at the 1964 Olympic Games held in Japan, where they were defeated by Hungary and Yugoslavia. Although Morocco qualified to compete in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, the team withdrew, reportedly for political reasons. In the 1972 games in Germany, Morocco reached the second round following a draw in their match against the United States and a win against the Malaysian team. The 2004 Olympic Games in Greece saw the Moroccan team narrowly miss reaching the quarter final.

With their victory over Egypt in the first edition of the CAF U-23 Championship, which doubles up as the qualifier for the London Olympics, the Moroccan team is set to play against Gabon in the Championship finals on 10 December to determine who will make history as the first ever Under-23 African Champions – before heading to the Olympics in 2012.