Wonder boy Mohamed gives Egypt perfect start in Olympics quest

Mostafa Mohamed headed the goal that gave host Egypt a 1-0 win over Mali as it bids to be among one of the three African teams to win a Tokyo Olympic berth.

Egypt's Mostafa Mohamed celebrates scoring the winner.   -  REUTERS

Wonder boy Mostafa Mohamed headed the goal that gave host Egypt a 1-0 win over Mali as an eight-nation African contest for three places at the Tokyo Olympics Games kicked off on Friday.

Later, Ghana snatched a late 1-1 draw with Cameroon in the second match of a Group A double-header at the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium.

Franck Evina, who is on the books of Bayern Munich and known as the 'Bavarian Hulk', put Cameroon ahead after 59 minutes and substitute Mohammed Habib levelled three minutes from time.

Forward Mohamed has earned rave reviews for his performances with top Egyptian club Zamalek at home and in Africa, with some pundits comparing him to legendary forward Hossam Hassan.

He made an immediate impact in the tournament as he not only got his country off to a perfect start, but was also voted man of the match.

Egypt is desperate to secure a top-three finish and a passport to Japan after the senior national team flopped as host of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Group B starts Saturday at the 30,000-seat Al Salam Stadium with a match between Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, followed by South Africa against Zambia.

South Africa has been hampered by the refusal of some domestic clubs to free players ahead of the November 11-19 international window, and will face Zambia with a squad of only 15.

All the contenders have played at the Olympics with Egypt making 11 appearances, Nigeria seven, Ghana six, Cameroon three, South Africa and Zambia two and Ivory Coast and Mali one.

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