South Africa, Egypt and Zambia book places at U-23s in Senegal….

Egypt coach Hosam El Badry

South Africa, Egypt and Zambia all booked places in the 2015 African Under-23 Championships in Senegal, with wins in their qualifiers. The South Africans comfortably beat neighbours Zimbabwe 3-0, while Egypt beat Uganda 2-1 and Zambia squeezed past Ivory Coast on penalties. The championships in Senegal start on 28 November. They also serve as qualifiers for the Rio Olympics in 2016. The three sides join hosts Senegal and Algeria at the tournament, after Algeria sealed their qualification last week. Eight nations will compete at the African Under-23 Championships, with the top three securing places in Brazil.

Two goals from Keegan Dolly and another by Gift Motupa ensured the South Africans advanced 4-1 on aggregate. Coach Owen Da Gama’s side are bidding to secure South Africa’s first appearance at the Olympics football tournament since the 2000 event in Sydney. Egypt, meanwhile, beat Uganda 2-1 in Kampala in the second leg of their qualifier on Saturday to seal a 6-1 aggregate victory. Egypt’s danger man, Mahmoud Abdelmonem Ablehamid Soliman, also known as Kahraba, was again their big threat at the Mandela National Stadium at Namboole, scoring both goals. He also scored two of their goals in their 4-0 first leg victory in Alexandria. “This is a very important win because we have made sure we pick up victories both home and away,” Egypt coach Hosam El Badry said. Zambia squeezed through to the finals in Senegal 4-3 on penalties against Ivory Coast in front of their home crowd in Lusaka. Both matches in the tie had ended goal-less. Four more spots remain on offer for the African Under-23 tournament. On Sunday, Nigeria face Congo Brazzaville in Pointe-Noire looking to move closer to a seventh Olympic Games football tournament appearance. The West Africans take a fragile 2-1 lead into the second leg of their qualifier. The Tunisia-Morocco tie is also delicately balanced while Mali should progress at the expense of Gabon. Dominant Morocco could build only a 1-0 home lead over Tunisia while Mali, who will lack suspended leading scorer Adama Niane, enjoy home advantage and a 1-0 lead against Gabon. The overall winners will qualify for the African Under-23 Championship in Senegal from 28 November- 12 December 2015, with the top three at the tournament progressing to the Olympics. Olympic qualifiers are restricted to footballers born on or after 1 January 1993, with three over-age stars permitted at the 2016 Olympic finals in Brazil.

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