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Meteors, Elephants clash for Tokyo 2020 Olympics ticket

Coach Ibrahim Tanko and his Black Meteors side are 90 minutes away from a historic appearance at the Olympic Games that is if only they are able to see the back of the Young Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in their semi-final clash at the ongoing Africa Under-23 tournament at the Cairo International Stadium this afternoon at 2pm.

This is the closest the team has come to reaching the multisport event in three attempts since last appearing at the 2004 Athens Games.

Ghana came into the first-ever African Under-23 tournament with high hopes of not only qualifying for the Games, but also lifting the trophy at stake and heartily, the team is on cause to winning double.

Ghana confirmed a spot in the semis with a 2-0 defeat of Mali last Thursday with their back against the wall.

For coach Tanko, this afternoon’s game, like their last encounter, is very important to them as he is ready to throw everything into the game to secure the much-needed win – and a qualification to the Tokyo Olympics.

Having scaled a scary hurdle into the semi-finals where they have to depend on an Egypt win over Cameroon to have their own win over Mali to see them through, Tanko is not wishing for anymore of that calculation game as he hopes to be the first coach to qualify for the Olympic Games today with a win.

“We came here with an aim of qualifying for next year’s Games and to lift the trophy at stake. This afternoon’s game provides us the chance to further keep theaim alive and that is what we are preparing for.”

Keeping his card close to his chest, the Ghanaian gaffer says their opponents this afternoon would not be an easy push over, especially having defeated the defending champions Nigeria on their way to this stage.

Tagging them as a tactically disciplined side that is more compact with a good technical brain backing them, Tanko believes he has the right strategy to ride over them and make it to the final .

For the Young Elephants, their last Olympic appearance came at Beijing 2008 and head coach Haidara Soualiho before the tournament set out a minimum target of finishing among the top three, although the third spot would still be up for grabs should they fall today.

According to him, Ghana has a strong team and need not to be underestimated. He says today’s game is a game of destiny for his team.

“It  is the most important one and the players are ready to die for the victory this afternoon,” he stated at the pre-match presser yesterday.

The day’s other game will see the Pharaohs of Egypt facing the Amaglugglug of South Africa for a place in the finals.

BY RAYMOND ACKUMEY

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