The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations gets underway on Friday, June 21 with hosts Egypt taking on Zimbabwe in the first match at the Cairo International Stadium.
This is the first time the continental showpiece is being held in June-July and not the usual January-February.
Cameroon held the hosting rights initially and had the chance to organise the prestigious tournament for the first time since 1972. However, following delays in preparation coupled with insecurity, they were replaced by Egypt.
Hosting the tournament puts Egypt in a wonderful position to lift the trophy. Of the four previous tournaments as hosts, the Pharaohs lifted the title on three occasions – 1959, 1986 and 2006. The only exception was 1974, where they finished third.
And they will be poised to make a winning start against Zimbabwe, who will be hoping to make it out of the group stage for the first time.
"They are a strong side. Our first game will be very important because it is the opening game of the tournament which will put pressure on us. However, we prepared very well for this difficult game which we must win” – Egypt coach Javier Aguirre.
“Now we will work hard to get the best possible result in all our games” – Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa.
Egypt: Mohammed Salah – He heads into the tournament on the back of a successful season Liverpool, who won the Champions League for the sixth time. He contributed 27 goals in all competitions for the Reds.
Salah also starred for Egypt in the qualifiers, finishing as the Pharaohs top scorer with four goals.
Zimbabwe: Knowledge Musona – The Warriors captain was in inspired form during qualification. He scored five goals as they qualified as winners of the group.
Attacker Khama Billiat sustained a knee injury during training this week but he is expected to start on Friday.
Egypt have no injury concerns ahead of the game.
Egypt 4-2-3-1: Ahmed El Shenawy(GK) - Ahmed Elmohamady, Ahmed Hegazi, Mahmoud Alaa, Ayman Ashraf, – Mohammed Elneny, Tarek Hamed - Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet, Mohammed Salah, Walid Soliman – Marwan Mohsen.
Zimbabwe 4-3-3: Edmore Sibanda(GK) - Divine Lunga, Tendai Darikwa, Danny Phiri, Teenage Hadebe – Marvelous Nakamba, Ovidy Karuru, Alec Mudimu – Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Nyasha Mushekwi
Egypt - WDLWW
Zimbabwe - DLWDD
Egypt and Zimbabwe have met four times. The Pharaohs have won all netting ten (10) times and conceding four(4) goals.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME
The game will be live on JOY 99.7 FM, with build up from 7 pm, kickoff at 8 pm.
The showpiece will also be live on television (Ghana) GTV, Supersport.