Egypt 1-0 Zimbabwe: 3 reasons why Egypt won | Africa Cup of Nations 2019

Mahmoud 'Trezeguet' Hassan celebrates his winning strike
Mahmoud 'Trezeguet' Hassan celebrates his winning strike
Anthony Akatugba Jr.

That was quite an opener!

We definitely expected the Warriors of Zimbabwe to put up a fight, but what we got was quite spirited. The Zimbabweans pushed Egypt right till the very end of the AFCON opener, and the only thing that stood between them was a lone moment of brilliance from the Egyptian #7, Mahmoud Hassan commonly known as Trezeguet.

The game was characterised by lots of wasteful forward play on both sides, crisp counter-attacking by the Zimbabweans, a resolute Edmore Sibanda, a dogged Zimbabwean defence, and a below-par Mohamed Salah. The man they call the 'Egyptian King' was heavily involved, but his final balls were evidently off the mark.

It was truly a tight contest, as the game had a total of 27 shots, with 11 overall on target. The Egyptians had a majority of the possession, but those spells were punctuated by dangerous attacking play by the Warriors. In the end, it was a game of fine margins, and the Egyptians did enough to secure the 3 points.

Below are 3 things which tipped the scales in favour of the Pharaohs.

#3 A momentary lapse in concentration

Zimbabwean captain, Knowledge Musona
Zimbabwean captain, Knowledge Musona

The truth is, if there are no mistakes, the goals we love to see so much wouldn't occur. Yesterday, Warriors captain Knowledge Musona made one such mistake deep in his own half.

The Zimbabwean skipper attempted to dribble past Egypt's Ashraf towards the end of the 1st half but lost the ball to Trezeguet, and the Egyptian winger pounced on the mistake with ruthless efficiency. A neat one-two, a nifty dribble in the Zimbabwean penalty area, followed by a precise finish was how Trezeguet made Musona pay for that costly mistake.

The scales really could have tipped either way, but at the upper echelons of football, the little margins matter, and any mistake is usually pounced on with brute force.

#2 Wasteful forwards

Zimbabwe's Khama Billiat (l)
Zimbabwe's Khama Billiat (l)

The game was quite an exciting one, and with 27 shots in total, that's hard to argue. However, the wasteful nature of the attackers on both sides was quite glaring, as we saw chance after chance thrown away with reckless abandon on both ends of the pitch.

While an energetic performance by the Zimbabwean keeper, Edmore Sibanda, was crucial in thwarting the Egyptians on numerous occasions, the Warriors also had their fair share of opportunities to get their name on the score sheet.

The most obvious one was Khama Billiat's miss in the first half, just a few minutes to Mahmoud Hassan's crucial decider. In the 36th minute, Billiat found himself in no man's land with just the keeper to beat, but milliseconds of indecision was all it took for the Egyptian keeper to thwart the winger.

If that goal had gone in, it would definitely have been a different ball game altogether.

#1 A moment of brilliance

Mahmoud 'Trezeguet' Hassan opens his AFCON 2019 account
Mahmoud 'Trezeguet' Hassan opens his AFCON 2019 account

As the English say, "opportunity makes the man". Well, the man fondly called 'Trezeguet' certainly seized his moment.

It was a goal worthy of a tournament opener, as Trezeguet pounced on a mistake by Zimbabwe's Musona towards the end of the first half.

Musona lost the ball in his own half, Trezeguet collected the ball and made a run up the Egyptian left flank, played a quick one-two, received the ball in the Zimbabwean penalty area, deftly dribbled towards the middle of the box, and then fired the ball past the dogged Edmore Sibanda.

That's all it took to break the deadlock and win all three points for the host nation. At this level, making the most of opportunities is paramount, because the margins are small.

In a game in which wasted chances was a predominant theme, Mahmoud 'Trezeguet' Hassan stood tall, taking his chance with much-needed aplomb.

Edited by Raunak J


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