Afcon 2019: Egypt registers slim win as Uganda prepares for DRC
Hosts Egypt recorded a slim victory against Zimbabwe in the opening fixture of the African Cup of Nations, AFCON, which kicked off in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Friday.
The Zimbabweans had their goalie Edward Sibanda to thank for thwarting the initial Egyptian inroads even as the Brave Warriors also carved out moments of brilliance threatening the hosts during exchanges.
Mohamed Salah was in sparkling form but it was Egypt’s other winger who broke the deadlock shortly before half-time in the Group A opener.
Salah was denied by another fine Sibanda stop midway through the second half, but Egypt’s profligacy did not come back to bite them as they comfortably secured the points.
He was yet again involved inside two minutes when his deflected cross forced a save from Sibanda, who then kept out Marwan Mohsen from the resulting corner.
Mahmoud Alaa should have turned home a Salah corner and Egypt were almost punished when Khama Billiat got through at the other end, but Mohamed El-Shenawy made a brave stop.
Egypt finally got their breakthrough four minutes before half-time – Trezeguet cutting in from the left and firing a sublime finish into the bottom-right corner.
Trezeguet looked set to get a second shortly after the restart, only for Sibanda to pull off a wonderful stop to his left.
Sibanda’s remarkable performance continued in the 67th minute, the 35-year-old reacting sharply to get down to Salah’s close-range effort.
Zimbabwe’s goalkeeper succumbed to a knock with 10 minutes remaining, though replacement Elvis Chipezeze proved his worth with a brilliant late stop to deny Salah and ensure Egypt had to settle for a one-goal victory.
Uganda opens its campaign today against neighbours Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to complete Group A’s match day.
Second Deputy Prime Minister Ali Kirunda Kivejinja will lead the Ugandan fans to cheer the Cranes. Kivejinja arrived in Cairo yesterday and was received by FUFA Vice President also State Minister for Children and Youth Affiars, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi.
The Cranes will be all out to make a perfect start just like the hosts Egypt who defeated Zimbabwe 1-0 in the opening game.
Assistant captain Hassan Wasswa Mawanda said that although they know DR Congo are a very physical side, the Cranes have what it takes to prove a point in this game.
In the other game, two-time champions, Nigeria take on Burundi and Guinea face debutants Madagascar in Group B.