Egypt take on Zimbabwe in the Africa Cup of Nations opener and the host’s have already voiced their confidence at not only defeating Zimbabwe, but in lifting their eighth AFCON title.
The hosts are favourites to win the biennial tournament and are in group A alongside Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, in the new 24-team AFCON format
Here is what football fans need to know ahead of the game including a detailed analysis of the two teams going into the continental showpiece;
Currently in 58th place and 50 places above their competitors in the FIFA World Ranking, Egypt are the most successful nation in AFCON’s history.
The Warriors of Zimbabwe will be making their fourth AFCON appearance and are fairly inexperienced compared to the seven-time champions.
Champions League winner Mohamed Salah Mohamed Elneny, Mahmoud Trezeguet and Ahmed Elmohamady will be some of the aces in Javier Aguirre’s star studded squad.
Zimbabwe captain Knowledge Musona says his team are well capable of stopping The Pharaohs and says they will not be pulled into only fighting Salah, lest the threat come from elsewhere.
Head to head
Egypt have won their last four encounters against Zimbabwe and are defeated at home against Zimbabwe.
The Pharaohs have only conceded one goal in these four encounters and boast a clean defensive record.
“All the players are mentally and physically ready and we look forward to beginning our campaign with a victory over Zimbabwe,” Aguirre said in a pre-match press conference.
Egypt played Tanzania in their final preparation match before the tourney and won 1-0 thanks to a goals from Elmohamady.
Zimbabwe also played Taifa Stars as their final encounter before AFCON and drew 1-1 on Sunday June 16.
“We should not only aim at stopping Mohamed Salah but everyone on the field because if we make that mistake, then we are going to fight against Salah, we will be destroyed by someone we don’t know,” Warriors skipper Musona said.
Egypt full squad:
Goalkeepers: Ahmed El-Shennawy (Pyramids FC), Mohamed El-Shennawy (Al Ahly), Mahmoud Gennesh (Zamalek).
Defenders: Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa), Baher El-Mohamady (Ismaily), Ahmed Hegazi (West Bromwich Albion), Mahmoud Alaa, Mahmoud Hamdy El-Wensh (Zamalek), Ahmed Ayman Mansour, Omar Gaber (Pyramids FC), Ayman Ashraf (Al Ahly).
Midfielders: Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Ali Ghazal (C.D. Feirense), Nabil Emad Dunga, Abdallah El-Said (Pyramids FC), Walid Soliman (Al Ahly), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet (Kasimpasa), Amr Warda (Atromitos).
Strikers: Ahmed Ali (Arab Contractors), Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly), Ahmed Hassan Kouka (Olympiacos).
Zimbabwe full squad
Goalkeepers: George Chigova (Polokwane City, South Africa), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank Spurs, South Africa), Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka, South Africa).
Defenders: Jimmy Dzingai (Power Dynamos, Zambia), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids, Wales), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa), Divine Lunga (Golden Arrows, South Africa), Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest, England) Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtics, South Africa)
Midfielders: Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge, South Africa), Ovidy Karuru (AmaZulu, South Africa), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Talent Chawapiwa (AmaZulu, South Africa), Knowledge Musona (Lokeren, Belgium), Danny Phiri (Golden Arrows, South Africa), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Horoya, Guinea), Thabani Kamusoko (Young Africans, Tanzania)
Strikers: Nyasha Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang, China), Evans Rusike (SuperSport United, South Africa), Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows, South), Tinotenda Philana Kadewere (Le Havre, France)
The Group A opener is expected to kick-off on Friday, June 21, at 11pm EAT.
The Cairo International Stadium
Where to watch
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