Nations Cup kicks off today, Egypt battles Zimbabwe
By Femi Atolagbe
African Cup of Nations will kick off tonight as the host nation Egypt files out against Zimbabwe in the opening match of the competition.
The biennial tournament will see Mohammed Salah leading the onslaught against Zimbabwe in the capital city of Cairo.
The Pharaohs were the last side to win the AFCON on home soil, back in 2006, the seven-time champions are one of the favorites to lift the trophy this year.
Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and former Chelsea Midfielder, Mike Obi are all set to feature at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations this summer.
While Mikel Obi will lead the Super Eagles of Nigeria against Burundi by 4.30pm at the Alexandria Stadium on Saturday.
The 2013 African Champion has also been ranked as one of the favorites to lift the trophy in Egypt.
The three times winners is expected to repeat the 2013 feat.
Senegal in the other hand are also among the front – runners which start its campaign at the month -long competition against Tanzania, also in Cairo, on June 23.
The Lions of Teranga reached the finals only once in 2002, but never lifted the trophy.
They were knocked out on penalties in the quarter-finals of the last AFCON – losing 5-4 to eventual winners Cameroon.
Meanwhile, Guinea is ranked among outsiders to reach the final on July 19, but are expected to progress from the group phase.
Egypt was runners-up at the last tournament in Gabon in 2017, when they were beaten 2-1 by Cameroon in the final.
Salah started every game en route to that showpiece match in Libreville, the Premier League Golden Boot winner will spearhead their campaign again this year.
Egypt’s top scorer at the 2017 AFCON, 2018 World Cup and during qualification for this tournament, Salah will be hoping to add to his international tally of 39 goals in 63 games over the course of the competition.
Of the four previous AFCON tournaments Egypt had hosted, they won the title on three occasions: 1959, 1986 and 2006.