Egypt’s U-23 team has been eliminated from the men’s Olympic football tournament after narrowly losing 1-0 to reigning champions Brazil at Saitama Stadium.
The Pharaohs reached the quarterfinals after finishing second in Group C with a 0-0 draw against Spain, a 1-0 loss to Argentina and a fine 2-0 win over Australia.
Brazil’s final group match was a 3-1 win over Saudi Arabia, which ensured they finished on top ahead of Ivory Coast.
Egypt showed little fear in the face of the Rio 2016 gold medalists, and put pressure on the Brazilian defence in the opening 15 minutes.
On 20 minutes, Egypt had a major scare when goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy, a standout performer at Tokyo, looked to have injured his thigh. However after some on-pitch treatment he was able to continue.
Seven minutes later, El-Shenawy was called into action when he saved a stinging left footed shot from Richarlison, the tournament’s top scorer with five goals.
But Egypt, led superbly by Ahmed Hegazi, continued to look dangerous on the break with 21-year-old Amar Hamdi in particular causing the Brazilian midfield problems with his penetrating runs.
The deadlock was broken in the 37th minute when a sharp Brazil counterattack saw Richarlison find Matheus Cunha, who scored with a precise shot past El-Shenawy.
As hard as Egypt tried to get back on terms in the second half, they rarely troubled Santos in the Brazil goal, while El-Shenawy kept his team in the game with several good saves.
At the final whistle, the dejected Egyptians and joyous Brazilians showed just how well the African team had performed. But in the end, with their attacking prowess, few could argue that the South Americans did not deserve to progress to the semifinal.
On Tuesday, Brazil will face the winner of the last quarterfinal between South Korea and Mexico.