Record African Champions Egypt got their 2019 AFCON dreams off to a flier with a hard fought slim 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in the opening match of the tournament at the Cairo International Stadium.
The Pharoahs needed a later first half strike from Mohammed Trezeguet to clinch maximum points despite the goalkeeping heroics of Elmore Sibanda in post for the Warriors.
Egypt paraded a familiar looking side with Mahmoud Trezeguet and Mariwan Mohsin starting from the flanks with Mohammed Sala completing their attacking trio.
Tarek Hamed and Mohammed El Nenny formed the double pivot in front of Hegazy, El Mohammedy, Alaa Eldin and Mohamed El Shenawy.
On their part, the Brave Warriors unleashed Karma Billiart and Knowledge Musona behind Nyansa Musekwi in their attacking force.
Ovidy Karuru, Marshal Munestsi and Marvelous Nakamba formed the middle belt of the team with Edmore Sibanda tasked with the goalkeeping duties.
Tendayi Darikwa, Teenage Lingani and Divine Lunga completed the back four for the fast emerging African football force.
With a lovely start to the game, Mohamed Sala, Mahmoud Trezeguet and Tarek Hamed all tested the palms of the goal keeper just 5 minutes into the game.
The deafening noise from the host barely intimidated the brave Warriors with the Brilliant Karma Billiart leading superbly as the lone ranger.
Individual brillaince from Karma almost stunned the Pharoahs with just 15 minutes into the game after some miscommunication at the back.
Tipped as a potential best goalkeeper of the tournament ahead of Kickoff, Edmore Sibanda confirmed his prowess with 8 stunning saves in the game, including 5 in the opening 45 minutes.
His saves barely saved Zimbabwe from the wrath of the incensed Pharoahs thanks to an artful strike from Mahmoud Trezeguet, 4 minutes to recess.
Series of interchange on the flanks set up Trezeguet en route to the opener. The inspired wide man checked back from inside the box and unleashed a master piece to send the stadium agog.
It was an opener that proved to be the winner with several goal bound shots parried by the goalkeeper in post for Zimbabwe.
From Mohammed Sala’s slippery nature to the goal hunting nature of the entire team, it is strange for the game not to produce another goal with almost 50 minutes to play after the opening goal.
A second half injury to Zimbabwean goal keeper Edmore Shibanda, paved for Elvis Chipezeeze in the last 10 minutes. The substitution also confirmed the gulf in class of the Warriors with the new arrival showing his class in dramatic fashion.
The ensuing minutes only spiced the fans inside the Cairo International Stadium with no goal to show for the attacking class on parade.