Egypt 1-0 Zimbabwe
Cairo International Stadium, Cairo
CAIRO – Host Egypt got off to a winning start at the on going 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), on Friday night.
Mahmoud Trazeguet struck the only goal of the afternoon as the Pharaohs edged Zimbabwe 1-0 in a well contested affair.
Egypt started strongly with Muhammad Salah and Morwan Moshen forcing two saves from Edmore Sibanda inside the opening two minutes.
The Pharaohs continued their bright star and on 8 minutes, Abdallah El-Said forced another save from Sibanda after a sweeping move that involved Moshen and Salah.
Four minutes later, El-Said found himself in acres of space in the Zimbabwe penalty area but could not hit the target as he blazed his shot over.
Despite all the pressure, Zimbabwe were holding on and they were looking dangerous on the counter at the other end.
Zimbabwe looked to be slowly growing into the game as the half wore on and started asserting themselves.
At the hour mark, Salah received a cross from Moshen, controlled it and danced his way into a promising position before shooting straight at Sibanda.
Moments later, the players went into the mandatory water-break as Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazi was being treated for a bleeding nose.
Zimbabwe’s first attempt on goal came on 34 minutes with Khama Billiat sending a speculative free-kick wide and over.
They nearly broke the dead-lock two minutes later when Billiat raced onto a quick free-kick, finding himself one on one with Mohamed El-Shenawy but the custodian stood firm to push the resultant shot, out for a fruitless corner.
However, the break through would come at the other end instead. Mahmoud Trazeguet picked the ball on the left, played a neat one-two with El-Said, wiggled his way into the box before unleashing a curling effort into the bottom left-hand corner to put Egypt 1-0 up on 41 minutes.
One could have easily turned into two but Salah shot wide moments later, after he was played in on goal by Moshen.
By the end of the first half, the Pharaohs had a firm grip on proceedings, attempting 10 shots with 5 of them on target. For Zimbabwe, they were struggling as evident from their single shot on target.
Four minutes into the second half, Trazeguet curled another shot, this time out side the box, but Sibanda pushed it out for a corner.
The game looked more of a balanced affair in the second half with Zimbabwe searching for an equalizer but they were struggling to create clear-cut chances.
At the hour mark, Sibanba was hit by Moshen and he went down for several minutes. As Sibanda was treated, Moshen was replaced by Walid Soliman in the very first substitution of the tournament.
On 66 minutes, El-Said released Salah who shot first time but Sibanda dived low to save the goal bound effort.
As time started ticking away, Ovidi Karuru tried his luck from distance but this effort was calmly collected by El-Shenawy.
Sibanda who had earlier been injured by Moshen, was eventually substituted by Elvis Chibezeze, with 10 minutes to play as Zimbabwe called for their first change.
Salah got a chance to seal the points on 87 minutes after he was played in through on goal by substitute Soliman, but could not beat the Chipezeze in a one on one situation.
At the end, Zimbabwe who put out a promising show, could not find the equalizer, seeing Egypt win the contest 1-0.
Egypt now move top of group A with three points from one game.
The other group A game will be played on Saturday as Uganda takes on DR Congo at the same venue, at 5:30pm.
How the teams started
16 Mohamed El-Shenawy (GK)
20 Mahmoud Alaa Eldin
6 Ahmed Hegazy
3 Ahmed El-Mohamady
19 Abdallah El-Said
7 Mahmoud Trezeguet
8 Tarek Hamed
17 Mohamed Elneny
10 Mohamed Salah
9 Marwan Mohsen
13 Ahmed Mansour
1 Edmore Sibanda (GK)
6 Alec Mudimu
2 Tendayi Darikwa
15 Teenage Lingani Hadebe
5 Divine Lunga
8 Marshall Munetsi
10 Ovidy Karuru
18 Marvelous Nakamba
23 Nyasha Mushekwi
17 Knowledge Musona
11 Khama Billiat