The groups for the TotalEnergies Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in 2023 were confirmed in a draw that took place at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) headquarters in Cairo recently, reports Inas Mazhar.
The TotalEnergies Egypt 2023 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations will take place from 19 February to 11 March. The host cities are Cairo (Group A), Ismailia (Group B) and Alexandria (Group C). As host nation, the Pharaohs will play in Cairo. The 12-nation tournament is a qualifying tournament for the World Cup in Indonesia scheduled to take place from 24 May to 11 June 2023 and which will have 24 teams.
Group A teams Egypt, Mozambique, Senegal and Nigeria are to play their group stage fixtures at Cairo International Stadium while Group B teams Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo play at Suez Canal Stadium. Alexandria Stadium will host Group C teams Gambia, Tunisia, Benin, and Zambia.
According to cafonline, the tournament is scheduled to launch with a mouth-watering opening game between hosts Egypt and Mozambique on Sunday 19 February at 16h00 local time.
The draw was attended by Shawki Gharib, a former Egyptian international midfielder who as coach led Egypt to a third-place finish at the U-20 World Cup in 2001 and the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations 2019 trophy together with Mohamed Shawki, the former Pharaohs star who shone for Egypt’s U-20 team by winning the 2011 U-20 World Cup bronze medal as well the 2006 and 2008 AFCON titles.
In preparation for the African tournament, the young Pharaohs will be building up for the games at the training pitch of the 30 June Stadium in New Cairo, under the supervision of their head coach Mahmoud Gaber.
Mohamed Barakat, Egyptian Football Association board member, talked after the draw about the federation’s support for the young players and preparations for the tournament. The former Ahly midfield star met the players and Gaber before a training session where he called on them to focus, do their best in the tournament and book a berth in the World Cup in Indonesia.
The 2023 FIFA-U20 World Cup will be the 23rd edition of the tournament, the biennial international men’s youth football championship. It has been contested by the U-20 national teams of the member associations of FIFA since its inception in 1977. It used to be called the FIFA World Youth Championship.
Egypt played host to the 2009 edition, the first FIFA World Cup in its history. It was also the first on African soil. The Egyptian team, however, could not make it past the round of 16. Still, the cup went to Africa anyway with Ghana winning it.
The U-20 World Cup hosted by Indonesia will be the first FIFA tournament hosted by the country. It will also be only the second U-20 World Cup to be held in Southeast Asia, the first since 1997, and the first FIFA tournament in the region since the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 12 January, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly