Senegal and Gabon meet on Tuesday with a chase history

By Nick CavellBBC Sport, Morocco
Senegalese duo Khassim Soumar and Younes Itri crowd out Lotfi Obilla of Morocco
Senegal (in white) qualified for the semi-finals after beating Morocco (in red), with the hosts meeting Algeria in the second semi-final on Wednesday

A historic Olympic qualification awaits the winners of Tuesday's clash between Senegal and Gabon in Tangiers.

Neither side has ever participated in an Olympic men's football tournament before but each now has three chances to rewrite the record books.

The two meet in the first semi-final of the inaugural African Under-23 Championship in Morocco, with the winner qualifying for London 2012.

The loser has another chance to qualify in Saturday's third-place play-off.

Senegal have won twice so far in Morocco with wins over both the hosts and Nigeria, while Gabon's only victory to date came in their final decisive group game over Ivory Coast.

The Senegalese side have grown in confidence since losing their opening game 1-0 to Algeria and then beating Nigeria (2-1) and then hosts Morocco (1-0) to qualify.

Coach Abdoulaye Sarr has no injury worries but is without Omar Wade, who is suspended after bookings against Algeria and Morocco.

Sarr says the semi-final is more like a final with a spot at the Olympics at stake.

"This game is a special match in the history of the Senegal team - Senegal has not had the chance to go to the Olympic Games before so it's a big game," he told BBC Sport.

"The players will be motivated - the coach doesn't have a big job to ask my players to play a big match - the players understand their job."

Gabon will also be confident after the 3-1 win over Ivory Coast in their final Group B game, a result that saw them qualify at the expense of their opponents.

Yet the win came at a cost with Allen Nono sent off and goalscorer Henri Junior Ndong picking up his second yellow card of the tournament, meaning both miss Tuesday's semi-final.

Gabon's first-choice goalkeeper Willy Mikiela is also suspended for the semi-final after being given a two-match ban for his red card against South Africa.

Gabon coach Claude Albert Mbourounot has admitted that he has had to do some quick homework on Senegal, with Ndong adding that he knows nothing about his opponents.

"I haven't seen them play at all - we've spent our time at the hotel resting and I prepare for one game at a time," he said.

The other semi-final is a north African affair on Wednesday as hosts Morocco face Egypt in Marrakesh.

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