Egypt 1-0 Zimbabwe: Trezeguet’s goal gives host perfect start at AFCON 2019

The 32 edition of Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicked off in Egypt on Friday as the host country defeated the Warriors of Zimbabwe 1-0 at the Cairo International Stadium. First half goal from Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan gave the Pharaohs a perfect start to the competition. One of the stars to watch in the game was LIverpool’s Mohamed Salah and his presence was felt in the game as he was a constant threat for the Warriors’ defence for the entire 90 minutes.

Mexican coach, Javier Aguirre opt for a 4-3-3 formation with Salah leading the frontline alongside Mohsen and Trezeguet. Arsenal midfielder Mohamed El Neny was in the heart of the Pharoahs as he was given the task to break Zimbabwe’s play from the middle. 

Egypt got a bright start in the game as they got the first two shots on target very early in the game with the Liverpool man being influential in both attacks. The Warriors return the favour by putting pressure on the Pharaohs few minutes later but couldn’t make it count.

Egypt came close to scoring the first goal in the 9th minute after a wonderful play between Salah and El-Said but Sibanda was up to the task as he parries the ball before Trezeguet ballooned the ball to the stands. In the 11th minute Salah started a wonderful attack down the right flanks but his delivery was not well utilised as Sibanda was again at the rescue for The Warriors.

The former Chelsea winger was causing more problems for Zimbabwe’s left fullback Lunga and teenage centre defender Hadebe. Zimbabwe were close to registering the first goal in the 25th minute through their captain Knowledge Musona but his effort was dealt with by Egyptian strong defence.

The Pharaohs suffer an early shock as West Brom defender El Hegazy suffered a broken nose after colliding with Zimbabwe striker Mushekwi, but he quickly recovered after being attended to by the Egyptian medical staff.

Billiat got one of the better chances in the opening 45 minutes as he saw his one on one attempt being saved by El Shanawy.

Turkish based forward, Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan produced the moment of quality and calm that the match was crying out for in the 41st minute after a wonderful play from the left flanks, he dribble past his marker Alec Midimu before burying a sublime effort down the right corner of Sibanda’s post. Aguirre’s men almost got the second few seconds later through Salah but his effort was off target.

Egypt ended the first half as the best team between the two creating lot of chances just to denied by Zimbabwe goalkeeper Sibanda. Egypt had enough chances to be comfortably ahead against the Warriors at the interval, but the hosts looked rushed in front of goal and Zimbabwe have gained confidence from Egypt’s wastefulness.

Egypt began the second half in the same pace they ended the first, as they got to early chances one from Trezeguet and the other from Salah. Trezeguet tries his luck with a curling effort very similar to the one that found the back of the net before half-time, but he’s a bit too far out this time and goalkeeper Sibanda collects. Salah then tries a trademark curling shot as he cuts back on the right side of the penalty area, but again it’s comfortable enough for Sibanda.

Hegazi demonstrates why Egypt were so keen to take their time on deciding if he would continue, cleverly intercepting a pass just as Egypt appeared to be on the back foot. Salah then provides the trickery at the other end, dancing between defenders on the edge of the area before running out of options.

Zimbabwe try to counter in the 53rd minute through Ovidy Karuru but his cross from the right is too close to Egypt keeper Mohamed El Shenawy.

Salah came close to adding to Egypt’s one goal advantage in the 66th minute after racing on to a through ball inside the Zimbabwe penalty area, but he can’t quite get enough behind the shot and Sibanda is able to prevent the ball squeezing inside his near-post.

Sibanda’s time was over in Zimbawe’s goal in the 80th minute following his earlier knock and owas being replaced by Elvis Chipezeze.

Substitute goalkeeper Chipezeze was called into action, and it’s none other than Salah again with the opportunity on the break for Egypt. Chipezeze does really well to close the angle on the Liverpool forward, who can’t quite guide the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s outstretched right leg.

Egypt will face D.R. Congo while Zimbabwe will face Uganda in their next group A fixture.

Starting lineup for both teams

Egypt XI: El Shanawy, Elmohamady, Hegazi, Alaa, Mansour, Elneny, El-Said, Hamed, Salah, Mohsen, Hassan

Zimbabwe XI: Sibanda, Darikwa, Lunga, Mudimu, Hadebe, Munetsi, Nakamba, Karuru, Musona, Billiat, Mushekwi