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Wednesday , October 28 2020

Egypt make winning start to Afcon

Egypt’s Abdallah El Said, (left), and Zimbabwe’s Marshal Munetsi fight for the ball during the group A soccer match between Egypt and Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo, Egypt on June 21. (AP)

Uganda upset DR Congo for rare Cup triumph

CAIRO, June 22, (RTRS): Mahmoud Trezeguet handed hosts Egypt a winning start to the Africa Cup of Nations with the only goal-opening game against Zimbabwe in a high tempo start to the tournament.

His 41st-minute strike proved decisive as Egypt missed out on a myriad of chances to make a bigger impact but will be satisfied to have taken the first three point haul of the month-long event.

Trezeguet’s finish overshadowed a return to Cairo for Champions League winner Mohamed Salah, whose every touch was loudly cheered but who had a frustrating evening as he could not convert his chances.

A packed crowd of 70,000 – many of whom had queued from up to 12 hours before kick off to enter the stadium – ensured a heady atmosphere at the Cairo International Stadium.

Zimbabwe looked to feel the pressure as Egypt had ample opportunity to take an early lead.

Salah was involved in a slick passing move in the ninth minute that offered Abdallah El Said a chance to score the tournament’s opening goal but again Sibanda saved well.

El Said then blasted wide with a similar chance from close range just three minutes later.

Then Trezequet broke the deadlock.

Picking up the ball out wide, he collected it back inside the penalty area after a short pass, and then made a body check to shake off the defence and open room for himself to fire home a curling shot that gave Sibanda no chance.

Salah, who showed no signs of post-season fatigue after a long campaign with Liverpool, had Egypt’s best chances of the second half but continued to be thwarted as Zimbabwe finished stronger. Ovidy Kararu’s powerful shot was the closest they came to an equaliser, but it was saved by El Shennawi.

 Uganda won at the Africa Cup of Nations finals for the first time in more than 40 years as they upset the Democratic Republic of Congo 2-0 in their opening Group A match at the Cairo International Stadium.

Both goals came from set-pieces as Patrick Kaddu headed home a 14th-minute corner and then Emmanuel Okwi got a touch onto a free kick just after halftime.

Uganda last won at the finals in 1978 when they beat Nigeria in the semifinals and finished runners-up to hosts Ghana.

Saturday’s surprise win served notice of the potential of a team not given much chance of progressing past the first round.

Kaddu attacked the ball at the near post and got a sharp angle to his twisting header for the first goal.

He had a good chance to score a second, also with a header from a cross-field ball, just three minutes later but put it wide of the target as the Congolese defence was beaten again.

Uganda also shaved the crossbar with a shot from Farouk Miya four minutes from halftime while at the other end their goalkeeper Denis Onyango had his first save after 43 minutes when he stopped Cedric Bakambu’s effort.

Okwi’s goal came when he looped the ball over Congolese goalkeeper Ley Matampi with a flick-on.

Miya almost made it 3-0 in the 56th minute with a rasping shot that Matampi did well to save while Congolese substitute Jonathan Bolingi hit the Uganda crossbar with a 70th-minute header.

The result is a setback for the languid-looking Congolese, who were semifinalists in 2015 and quarter-finalists two years ago.

The match was played in soaring temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius and in front of a largely empty stadium, in stark contrast to Friday’s opening game where some 70,000 fans packed into the iconic venue for the opening game of the tournament as hosts Egypt beat Zimbabwe 1-0.

Nigeria needed a late goal from substitute Odion Ighalo to claim a 1-0 win over a brave Burundi side playing their first-ever match at the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday.

 Ighalo was set free by Ola Aina’s clever flicked pass and side-footed the ball past Burundi goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana in the 77th minute, four minutes after coming on in the opening Group B match.

 It was tough on Burundi who refused to be overawed and enjoyed slightly the better of the first half with Frederic Nsabiyumva heading against the crossbar from a set-piece.

 Nigeria took control after halftime but were struggling to create chances until Aina’s moment of inspiration finally unlocked the Burundi defence. 

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