Egypt hit Zimbabwe to record winning start in AFCON
- Egypt launched their hunt for an eighth Africa Cup of Nations title with a slender 1-0 win over Zimbabwe as the competition kicked off under sweltering heat and at a humid Cairo International Stadium here on Friday night.
- The match was dull failing to give the spark that the colourful opening ceremony had served the thousands of home fans who thronged Egypt’s football cathedral.
By Swila Isaac in Cairo,Egypt
Egypt launched their hunt for an eighth Africa Cup of Nations title with a slender 1-0 win over Zimbabwe as the competition kicked off under sweltering heat and at a humid Cairo International Stadium here on Friday night.
The match was dull failing to give the spark that the colourful opening ceremony had served the thousands of home fans who thronged Egypt’s football cathedral.
After some dodgy display and missed chances, the home side counting for the lion’s share, the Pharaohs finally ticked the right box in the 41st minute when Mahmoud Ahmed Trezeguet wriggled his way from the left wing after a neat exchange to plant the ball home, firing to the left of Zimbabwean goalie Edmore Sibanda to ignite celebrations in the sold out stadium.
Hopes were high that the hosts would put the Zimbabweans to the sword but the Warriors fended off early threats, creating chances of their own, decent enough to take the lead here but perhaps the conviction was lacking.
In the 13th minute, Abdallah Mahmoud blasted wide an acute pass after ‘Mo’ Salah had done some neat build up play from the right wing.
Salah, undoubtedly very popular amongst his compatriots, was the most dangerous attack outlet from his work station on the right, his dribbling skills and nimble left foot giving the Zimbabwean defence manned by David Darikwa, Devine Lunga, Alec Takunda and Marshal Nyasa some hard time.
Lethargy amongst the Egyptians was however evident as Marwan Mohsen blasted off target from the box when he could have done better in the 22nd minute
The Warriors, playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation did not allow themselves to be bullied in the first stanza threatening too, and their best chance in the game came via their skipper Knowledge Musona midway through the first half but it was blocked.
Three minutes after his threat, action was thick in the opposite goal as Salah made another swerving effort with his preferred left foot from but it veered off.
The sweltering heat, factored in by organizers CAF, saw the players have a water break before the referees traditional 15 minutes half-time moment, but after the interval, it was a matter of when but not if the Pharaohs would add the second as the Warriors became very clumsy giving away possession too easily and committing school boy errors but were lucky to escape unpunished.
Egypt’s coach Javier Onaindia, a Spaniard, made a change 19 minutes in the second half bringing in Walid Said Ebeid for Mohsen but his charges still struggled, raising concerns as to how they would fair against giants from west Africa such as Senegal.
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