Trezeguet's curler gives Egypt opening Nations Cup win

Hatem Maher , Saturday 22 Jun 2019,
Egypt's Trezeguet celebrates scoring their goal with team mates (Photo: REUTERS)

Mahmoud Trezeguet netted in the first half to give an otherwise disappointing Egypt a 1-0 victory over Zimbabwe in their opening Africa Cup of Nations clash at Cairo Stadium on Friday.

Despite being roared on by a sell-out crowd at the 75,000-seat venue, where Egypt won the Nations Cup in 1986 and 2006, the Pharaohs struggled to break down a disciplined Zimbabwe side who showed flashes of pretty football despite creating little danger.

Egypt appeared bereft of ideas and imagination in the final third, with even Mohamed Salah finding it hard to create space for himself, having been well shackled.

Trezeguet, who plays for Kasimpasa in Turkey, ensured there won't be any embarrassments though when he scored a beauty shortly before the break.

Zimbabwe appeared slightly better in the second half, with Egypt failing to mount any threats. However, the record seven-time African champions will be content to bag all three points and edge close to a place in the last 16.

Defensive midfielder Tarek Hamed and central defender Mahmoud Alaa stood out for Egypt, with the latter winning the man of the match award on his competitive debut.

Egypt next face DR Congo on Wednesday before meeting Uganda in their last Group A match on 30 June. Uganda and DR Congo meet on Saturday.

Composed Zimbabwe

Pushing forward from the early stages, Egypt had a couple of decent efforts but the good early impression did not last for long, with Zimbabwe looking largely composed in defence and whenever they gained possession.

A looping header from lone striker Marwan Mohsen was tipped over by keeper Edmore Sibanda while a side-footed effort from veteran playmaker Abdallah El-Said missed the target after a pull-back from right-back Ahmed Elmohamady.

Salah repeatedly dropped back to start Egypt's build-up play but was closely marked, depriving the team of their most lethal weapon. Zimbabwe then grew bolder as the match wore on, finding some gaps on the breakaways.

They could have taken a shock lead in the 37th minute when a quickly-taken free kick released the lively Khama Billiat, who broke clear before Egypt keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who was not tested until this stage, rushed out to block his effort.

It was the clearest goal-scoring chance in the first half but Egypt settled their nerves four minutes before the interval, with Trezeguet stealing the show with a superb piece of individual skill.

Exchanging passes with left-back Ayman Ashraf, he cut inside his marker and planted a right-foot curler into the far corner to break the deadlock.

The second half was a dull affair, with Egypt resorting to ineffective long balls which were easily cleared by Zimbabwe's rearguard.

Salah could have still killed off Zimbabwe's hopes in the 67th minute when he was released by a fine threaded pass from Trezeguet but his right-foot effort was thwarted by keeper Edmore Sibanda, who was later taken off due to injury.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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