Africa Cup of Nations hosts Egypt are confident of defeating
Zimbabwe Friday in the opening match of a tournament expanded to 24 teams and
staged in mid-year for the first time.
Egypt lie 51 places higher on the world rankings ahead of
the Group A clash, top the title betting at 5/1 with Zimbabwe 150/1, and have
won three of the four previous Cup of Nations they hosted.
“We are the favourites to win the 2019 Africa Cup,” said 60-year-old coach Javier Aguirre, the first Mexican to guide a nation that has won the competition a record seven times.
“Egypt are playing at home, can count on passionate support and have Mohamed Salah, the best footballer in Africa.”
Salah has returned home after another stellar season with Liverpool, which he completed by scoring the first goal in a 2-0 Champions League final triumph over Tottenham Hotspur.
But Zimbabwe were boorish and they are daring to dream.
Tino Kadewere admitted to rooting for Salah and Liverpool in this season’s Premier
League title race,but the Zimbabwe
forward will be looking to upstage the Egypt in the opening fixture.
This will be Zimbabwe’s fourth appearance, but the striker
is full of confidence in Cairo. The squad
looks much different to the one that exited in the group stage two years ago
with just a point after a tough draw that placed them alongside Senegal,
Tunisia and Algeria.
“In 2017 we had a few experienced players but now it’s more of a young squad. It is a new generation,” Kadewere told AFP.
“It’s a whole new squad. We have been together for quite a while now, and we have been doing well since last year when we played the Cosafa Cup.”
“Everyone in Zimbabwe really wants us to try and get to
the knock-out stages,” said Kadewere, who just completed his first season
in French football with second division side Le Havre after three years in
Egypt vs Zimbabwe:
Prediction, head-to-head and TV stream
Prediction: Stranger things happen in football, especially
African football. Egypt are firm favourites, though. The hosts have an 81%
chance of winning. The draw is the next most likely outcome while Zim’s
probable chance of winning is just three per cent.
The teams have played each on just four occasions. Egypt won all four.
Where and what time to watch
Kick off time is 22:00 (SAST) with the opening ceremony
starting at 20:00.
In Africa, SuperSport 4 and 10 will broadcast the match and
the opening ceremony.
Elsewhere: Eurosport Player (UK) and beIN Sports Connect (U.S.).
Additional reporting by AFP.