By EMMA NJOKU
The final of the 19th edition of Orange Africa Youth Championship (AYC) holding in Algeria will be decided later today in the city of Oran, with Egypt favoured to clinch the coveted trophy at the expense of Ghana. Defending champions, Nigeria’s Flying Eagles, surrendered the title on Tuesday when they lost 2-0 to the Young Pharaohs of Egypt in one of the semi-finals, while Ghana’s Satellites edged hard-fighting Young Eagles of Mali 3-2 on penalties to set up today’s final.
Egypt and Ghana have met six times at this level of the competition with the Satellites of Ghana winning three times, while the Young Pharaohs of Egypt had won twice, including their group fixture at the ongoing tournament. The only time both sides settled for a draw was in 2003, in the city of Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso, when they met in the group phase of the competition. Encounters involving both sides have always been tight.
At Mauritius 1993, it took 120 minutes before Ghana could subdue the Egypt 3-1 in the semi-final, while their last meeting at the same stage of the competition in Ethiopia in 2001, ended 6-5 on penalties, also in favour of Ghana after regulation and extra time scores stood at 1-1. All other previous encounters involving both teams had ended in slim 1-0 scores or 1-1, save for their last meet in the group stage of this year’s edition, which ended 2-1 in favour of the Young Pharaohs.
If current statistics is anything to go by, then Egypt looks good to carry the day having kept a 100 per cent record right from the qualifiers through the group stage to the semi-finals. The Egyptian side will, obviously, go into today’s epic final with confidence after seeing off the defending champion, Nigeria, with an emphatic 2-0 scores in the semis. Added to this, is the fact that the Ghanaian side earlier bowed to the Young Pharaohs 2-1 in their group game.
One player Ghana must do everything to put in check today is Mahmoud Abdel-Monem Kahrab, the man whose brace ended the John Obuh-tutored Flying Eagles’ dream of successfully defending the crown they won two years ago in South Africa. Other players to watch on the Egyptian side are Omar Bassam and Ahmed Samir. Ghana had played in five previous Final of the AYC, winning the trophy three times in 1993, 1999 and 2011, while Egypt had reached the Final on three previous occasions, winning the title twice in 1991, when it hosted the tournament, and in 2003 in Burkina Faso.