Egypt, who endured a torrid start to the Olympic men’s soccer competition when they trailed 3-0 to Brazil in their opener, completed a remarkable recovery by reaching the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Belarus on Wednesday,
Gold medal favourites Brazil completed their perfect run of three straight wins when they beat New Zealand 3-0 at St James’ Park, Newcastle to seal first place in Group C ahead of Egypt.
Four matches played in the afternoon produced only one goal between them when Mexico beat Switzerland 1-0 in Cardiff to win Group B. The games between South Korea and Gabon in Group B and Spain and Morocco in Group D finished goalless.
Those results meant that in Saturday’s quarter-finals Japan play Egypt at Old Trafford while Brazil face Honduras at St James’ Park, Newcastle.
There are two Group A evening matches to come with hosts Britain against Uruguay and Senegal v United Arab Emirates.
The three teams in contention in that section – Britain, Uruguay and Senegal will face either Group B winners Mexico or runners-up South Korea in the other two quarter-finals.
Egypt, bedraggled and bewildered against Brazil at the start, finished that match narrow 3-2 losers and, inspired by that fightback, finished the group phase in some style, leapfrogging Belarus into second place.
But Egypt coach Hany Ramzy faces the prospect of losing Mohamed Aboutrika and Emad Meteab from his squad as they are due to return to their club Al Ahly before Saturday’s match.
He said: “We have an agreement with Al Ahly they will fly back tonight but I am hoping Al Ahly understand the situation.
“We have an important match in three days and we needed the experience of these players, especially Aboutrika. The players have a connection with him and we need his experience in this important match.”
Belarus just needed a draw to qualify but Egypt hit them with second-half goals by Mohamed Salah, substitute Marwan Mohsen and Aboutrika, whose third in the 78th minute sealed the victory. Andrei Voronkov scored a late consolation for Belarus four minutes from time.
Brazil had their match against New Zealand wrapped up in the first 30 minutes. Danilo and Leandro Damiao netted the first two and midfielder Sandro added a third six minutes into the second half.
But defender Alex Sandro will miss the quarter-final after being sent off for a second bookable offence 15 minutes from time.Reuters