* Egypt have won their last four meetings with Zimbabwe and netted more than once in each of those matches.
* On home soil, the Pharaohs have never tasted defeat to today's opponent and they have conceded just one goal across the four-such fixtures.
* Overall, the sides have met on 14 previous occasions, with Zimbabwe winning twice and losing eight times.
* There’s a significant amount of pressure on Egypt to win the tournament on home soil. Of the four previous tournaments as hosts, the Pharaohs lifted the title on three occasions – 1959, 1986 and 2006. The only exception was 1974.
* The Pharaohs can go all the way, taking into consideration their impressive home form. Egypt last lost a home match in January 2016. Including friendlies, they are unbeaten in 17 games, winning 15.
* Regardless of that, Zimbabwe look like a side capable of upsetting the odds. They lost just one game and finished as winners of their group.
* Zimbabwe are yet to progress beyond the group stage at the Africa Cup of Nations in three previous attempts. In 2017 they finished at the bottom of their group but gave some very spirited showings against Senegal, Tunisia and Algeria.
* The 32nd edition will be the 25th appearance for Egypt while 4th appearance for Zimbabwe.
* Egypt (1957), Ghana (1963) and South Africa (1996) are the only countries to have won the AFCON tournament in their appearance.
* Egypt coach Javier Aguirre has a fully-fit squad ahead of their opener on Friday.
* He is expected to go with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation with Marwan Mohsen the lone striker getting support from Mohamed Salah, Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet and Amr Warda.
* But a lot will be expected of Mohamed Salah. He scored 27 goals in a successful season, which saw Liverpool conquer Europe.
* Salah was Egypt's top scorer with four goals during qualification. He scored all his goals at home.
* Midfielders Mohammed Elneny and Tarek Hamed
– both featured in 2017 AFCON final defeat to Cameroon
– are expected to provide the shield for the back four.
For Zimbabwe, they are sweating over the fitness of one of their most dangerous players Khama Billiat.
* Billiat has not trained this week after picking up a knee injury. He is considered a doubt.
* But if Billiat recovers in time to start, he and Knowledge Musona are expected to provide some much-needed pace on the wings when Zimbabwe attack. The duo scored a combined eight goals in qualifying.
* Striker Nyasha Mushekwi is in line to start after rejoining the team’s camp on Monday. - He travelled to China following permission to feature for his club, Dalian Yifang, in a league match. Dalian lost that match 1-0 and Mushekwi was sent off in the second half.
LEAVE A COMMENT