Preview: Hosts Egypt face Zimbabwe in AFCON opener

The Cairo International Sports Stadium is expected to be treated to a spectacular opening ceremony in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Friday prior to the big game between Egypt and Zimbabwe.

Hosts Egypt face Zimbabwe in AFCON opener

The sides are facing off for the second time in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations. They first met in the continental showpiece in 2004 and the Pharaohs won 2-1.

Egypt are expected to get their campaign off to a winning start against Group A outsiders Zimbabwe, with DR Congo and Uganda the two other teams who Egypt will face in the group stage.

While Zimbabwe will be seeking to advance past the group stage for the first time in the competition’s history, hence a winning start will be of the essence.


Much of their hopes rest on the form of Liverpool’s Champions League winner Mohamed Salah. After a long season, he was given time extra time to go off on holiday before joining up with the squad just over a week before the start of the tournament.

Egypt won both of their warm-up matches ahead of the competition, a 1-0 victory against Tanzania was followed by a 3-1 win against Guinea last Sunday when Salah came off the bench in the second half and weighed in with two assists.


They qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations courtesy of winning Group G, and in doing so they picked up four points against DR Congo, who they will also face in their final group fixture at the finals.

Key players for Zimbabwe are expected to be striker Knowledge Musona and talented midfielder Marvelous Nakamba who featured in the UEFA Champions League for Club Brugge.

Egypt have played a total of 12 games against Zimbabwe. The Pharaohs have won seven, lost four and drawn against the Warriors.

In Africa Cup of Nations, they have come face to face once. Egypt defeated their opponents 2-1 in the 2004 AFCON staged in Tunisia.

Egypt have participated in 23 Africa Cup of Nations against just 3 participations from Zimbabwe.

The Pharaoh have won the Africa Cup of Nations for a record seven times, while Zimbabwe are yet to go past the group stage of the competition.

The North African powerhouse have won 17 of their 23 opening games. They have lost five and drawn twice, while the Southern Africans are yet to win an opener. They have lost one and drawn twice.


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