Egypt will host the 32nd edition of Africa Cup of Nations, and the first game of the tournament will see the home side square up against The Warriors of Zimbabwe on Friday at the Cairo International Stadium. Both national teams are in group A alongside Uganda and D.R.Congo.
For The Pharaohs, this will be their twenty-third tournament and are the most successful team in the history of the competition, having won seven titles while Zimbabwe will be playing in this competition for the fourth time.
The host nations have a flawless record at the biennial tournament whenever it has been played at their home turf and won it the last time they hosted and will bank on home support as they gun for the eighth time.
Mexican coach, Javier Aguirre had announced a provisional 25-man squad last month, from which he decided to axe the most internationally inexperienced players in goalkeeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal and left-back Ahmed Aboul-Fetouh from the team.
As of now, there is no news of any injury or suspension. The former Espanyol coach has been smart enough to allow Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny a much-needed breather from their prolonged club campaign, who’ve also subsequently joined their pre-tournament training.
In their last friendly against Guinea which they won 3-1, the coach was wise to rest Salah in the first half but his inclusion in the second half paid off as he assisted two goals.
Sunday Chidzambwa is in his fourth stint as Warriors boss having lead the side at their first ever AFCON tournament in 2004. The vastly experienced Chidzambwa has also managed several club sides in South Africa. The 67-year old veteran has also previously been banned by FIFA for match-fixing.
Warriors captain Knowledge Musona will be hoping to fire his nation to AFCON glory. Musona has enjoyed stints in South Africa with Kaiser Chiefs and in Europe with Hoffenheim & Oostende.
Musona has 22 goals in just 34 international appearances and his goal getting instincts will be crucial if Zimbabwe is to navigate out of a tricky looking Group A against hosts Egypt, Uganda and DR Congo.
He also has a good scoring record against the Pharaohs scoring two goals against them.
Head to Head:
Egypt won the previous four games against Zimbabwe and were able to hit the back of the net more than once in every single one of those matches. Salah and his compatriots are undefeated when facing Zimbabwe at home as they conceded just one goal across the four encounters.
Last game between the nations: 09/06/2013 Zimbabwe – Egypt 2:4; Knowledge Musona 21’, Lincoln Zvasiya 81’; Mohamed Aboutrika 5’, Mohamed Salah 40’, 76’, 83’
Last game on Egyptian soil: 26/03/2013 Egypt – Zimbabwe 2:1; Abd Rabo Hosny 65’, Mohamed Aboutrika 87’; Knowledge Musona 75’
Egypt are given 1.19 odd for them to win which shows they are the favourites to win the match but there’s is a room for taking risk when it comes to betting and football is a game of surprises. Zimbabwe have 21.0 odd to win the game and if you can take a risk of staking ₦1000 you have a possible return of ₦21000.
Possible starting lineup:
Egypt predicted starting lineup: Ahmed El Shenawy, Ahmed Hegazi, Mahmoud Alaa, Ayman Ahsraf, Ahmed Elmohamady, Mohamed Elneny, Tarek Hamed, Mahmoud Trezeguet, Amr Warda, Mohamed Salah, Marwan Mohsen.
Zimbabwe predicted starting lineup: Edmore Sibanda, Tendayi Darikwa, Divine Lunga, Alec Mudimu, Teenage Hadebe, Danny Phiri, Marvelous Nakamba, Ovidy Karuru, Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Nyasha Mushekwi.
The Pharaohs have a formidable record when playing in front of their own supporters, securing 11 straight victories to stretch an unbeaten sequence in such fixtures to 16.
Salah and his compatriots have an edge over Zimbabwe but they won’t want to write off the Warriors who have nothing to lose in the contest. It is expected that the Pharaohs should come out top after the final whistle so there is no much pressure on the Zimbabweans.
Predicted scores: Egypt 3-1 Zimbabwe
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