Mohammed Salah in action during the AFCON 2017 Group stage Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE
  • Cairo International Stadium
  • Friday June 21, 2019
  • 11pm (EAT)

Hosts Egypt and Zimbabwe target a perfect start as the curtains go off at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Egypt starting XI vs Uganda Cranes at AFCON 2017 Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE

The two side’s last meeting in the competition was way back in 2004 when The Pharaohs won 2-1 but that will count less on Friday night at the Cairo International stadium.

Egypt Coach Javier Aguirre has highlighted the importance of the game saying it’s always good to start the campaign with three points.

Javier Aguirre, Egypt coach

“It’s a very important game as it’s the opening and we know the responsibility for us, yet we feel no pressure,” Aguirre told reporters. “We respect Zimbabwe and know them well. We will do our best come Friday. We are just thinking of Zimbabwe game now and will take one game at a time,” he added.

His counterpart Sunday Chidzambwa says his side is well prepared but admits it will be a very tough game against the hosts, seven time champions.  

Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa

“We prepared well and we believe we will do well,” he stated. “We are playing in a very difficult group and we also had the same in the qualifiers,” Chidzambwa further explained in a pre-match presser.

“Facing Egypt is not going to be easy because they play at home and also they won AFCON 7 times. But we are one of the best 24 teams in Africa and we will do our best.”

Key Players

Mo Salah and Mohamed Elneny Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO

Unlike in the past, Egypt doesn’t have as many stars on the team but in Mohamed Salah, they have arguably the best player on the continent and he will be key for them.

For Zimbabwe, all hope lies in the partnership and experience of skipper Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat.

The duo has proved their importance for the Warriors in recent games and must be at their best to earn Zimbabwe a good start.

Khama Billiat Credit: Courtesy

Trouble in Zimbabwe camp

However, Zimbabwe must overcome bonus issues in their camp as on the eve of the big match, they threatened not to play if their FA and government haven’t cleared their bonus arrears.  

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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