Egypt get off to winning start in Africa Cup of Nations opener






Cairo - By Ramadan Al-Fatash, - Hosts Egypt on Friday clinched a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in an opener of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), the continent's most prestigious football tournament that started in the country earlier in the day.

Egypt’s Mahmoud Trezeguet scored the sole goal with a right-foot shot into Zimbabwe goalkeeper’s far corner in the 41st minute.

Liverpool star Mohammed Salah created several goal-scoring chances for the Pharaohs, but they were frittered away or lacked in the finishing precision.



 
Egyptians’ performance eased off in the second half, during which the Zimbabweans pressed in an attempt to equalize.
In addition to Egypt and Zimbabwe, Afcon Group A comprises DR Congo and Uganda that will play their first game in the competition on Sunday.
The Pharaohs are the most successful team in Afcon history, having won the tournament a record seven times.
Home fans hope that their team led Salah can claim a record-extending eighth title.
Earlier Friday, the 32rd edition of Afcon kicked off at a colourful ceremony at the Cairo International Stadium.
The gala featured fireworks, a laser show, Egyptian performances and African music.
Singers Hakim of Egypt, Femi Kuti of Nigeria and Dobet Gnahoré of Cote d’Ivoire also performed the official song of the tournament at the gala.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, the head of the world's governing body FIFA, Gianni Infantino, and the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Ahmad Ahmad, attended.
This year's competition has expanded to include 24 national teams instead of 16 in previous editions. It is also the first to be held in the heat of the summer.
In January, Egypt was picked to host the 2019 Afcon edition after Cameroon was stripped of the competition for safety and construction reasons.
The tournament, running until July 19, is the first to be held in the heat of the summer.
Egypt's domestic football has been marred by violence in recent years.
In 2012, 72 fans were killed in a riot at a local league game in the northern city of Port Said, Egypt's worst sports disaster.
In 2015, another 22 died in a stampede outside a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo.
The two incidents prompted authorities to play local games without fans.
Fans wishing to attend the current competition had to register online and obtain identification cards as part of security steps aimed at preventing hooliganism.
Thousands of them packed Cairo stadium, with many wearing shirts of the national team.
The fixtures of the championship will be staged at six stadiums in four Egyptian cities: Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia and Suez.

Saturday, June 22nd 2019
By Ramadan Al-Fatash,
           


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