Egypt struggled to beat Zimbabwe 1-0 … As 2019 AFCON begins
Hosts Egypt on Friday evening got their campaign on track with a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe at the Cairo International Stadium in the opening game of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
The game started shortly after a colourful opening ceremony that showcased the rich history of the North African country.
The Pharaohs were unconvincing despite the win, secured courtesy of a Mahmoud Trezeguet 41st minute strike. They had two great chances to take the lead in the opening five minutes but Zimbabwe’s goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda pulled off two stunning saves to keep his side in the game.
Liverpool star Mohammed Salah got the first chance to test Sibanda before the goalkeeper tipped Marwan Mohsen’s header over the crossbar.
But the Pharaohs were lucky not to have fallen behind in the 37th minute, when a great ball in found KhamaBilliat in the Egyptian box, but the onrushing Mohamed El Shenawi, in goal for the hosts, thwarted the dangerous striker’s effort, spilling it out for a corner. Zimbabweans breached their defence for the first time, but fail to hit target. It was a missed opportunity for the Warriors.
Egypt finally broke the deadlock through Trezeguet in the 41st minute, with Sibanda finally beaten after some poor defensive work by the Warriors.
Among the dignitaries present at the opening ceremony at the Cairo International Stadium were the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi – the only person who delivered a message of welcome.
“I welcome all of you, our dear African brothers, in your second homeland, Egypt, wishing you happiness,” Al-Sisi said, while declaring the continent’s top football showpiece open.
The other African president at the event was Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi. FIFA president Gianni Infantino was also present along with CAF president Ahmad Ahmad. Other big wigs of CAF and the Egyptian FA were also present.
Nigerian musician Femi Kuti performed the official song of this year’s AFCON, along with Egypt’s Hakim and Ivory Coast’s DobetGnahore.
The official song, titled ‘Metgameen’, translates as ‘We Are Together’.Punch