Mahmoud Trezeguet scored for hosts Egypt to get a winning start to 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Friday in Cairo.
It was the only goal in a 1-0 win in the opening game against Zimbabwe in a high tempo start to the tournament.
Trezeguet’s 41st minute strike proved decisive as Egypt missed out on a myriad of chances to make a bigger impact.
But they will be satisfied to have taken the first three points of the month-long event.
Trezeguet’s finish overshadowed a return to Cairo for UEFA Champions League winner Mohamed Salah.
The Liverpool forward’s every touch was loudly cheered but he had a frustrating evening as he could not convert his chances.
A packed crowd of 70,000 ensured a heady atmosphere at the Cairo International Stadium.
Many of them had queued from up to 12 hours before kick-off to enter the stadium.
Zimbabwe looked to feel the pressure as Egypt had ample opportunity to take an early lead.
Zimbabwe’s goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda had a busy start with two saves inside the opening three minutes ——— both times touching the ball clear of his goal from headed efforts.
Salah was involved in a slick passing move in the ninth minute that offered Abdallah El Said a chance to score the tournament’s opening goal but again Sibanda saved well.
El Said then blasted wide with a similar chance from close range just three minutes later.
Salah’s first effort came after 17 minutes as he cut in from the byline but had only a tight angle to work with and put it wide of the target.
Egypt had a scare as Zimbabwe took a quick free-kick that caught the home defence napping but not goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawi, who came out timely to smoother the opportunity.
Then Trezequet broke the deadlock.
Picking up the ball out wide, he collected it back inside the penalty area after a short pass.
He then made a body check to shake off the defence and open room for himself to fire home a curling shot that gave Sibanda no chance.
Salah, who showed no signs of post-season fatigue after a long campaign with Liverpool, had Egypt’s best chances of the second half.
But he continued to be thwarted as Zimbabwe finished stronger.
Ovidy Kararu’s powerful shot was the closest they came to an equaliser, but it was saved by El Shennawi.
(Edited by Olawale Alabi)
Hosts MFM FC beat Abia Warriors to end unhappy run
MFM Football Club of Lagos on Wednesday ended their five-game nightmare of enduring a drought of goals and wins by beating visiting Abia Warriors of Umuahia 2-1.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) fixture saw the hosts securing a much-needed victory to steer them away from the relegation zone.
MFM FC started on full throttle in front of agitated fans at the Agege Stadium, and it paid off with a 18th minute clever finish from Dennis Obasi.
Clement Ogwu’s well-taken free-kick in the 29th minute gave the home side a two-goal lead to end the first half on a high in the Match Day 25 fixture.
They however let their guards down during the second half to concede a goal, after goalkeeper Teslim Folarin failed to parry Fatai Abdulahi’s flicked pass.
The hosts were however able to ward off further threats from Abia Warriors to end the game at 2-1.
MFM FC’s coach Tony Bolus, in an interview after the match, said victory was a much-expected win for the team after a five-game winless run.
“Definitely, we are going to key into winning this game for more victories for the team. We have seen some lapses from our strikers which we will work upon.
“We put everything into the game in the first half to achieve our aim,” he said.
Abia Warriors’ coach, Willy Udube, however lambasted his strikers, saying they played to the gallery in order to impress the home fans.
“My strikers were just playing to the gallery because they wanted to impress the home fans. This was because one of them is from Lagos.
“We lost lots of goal scoring chances due to this,” he said.
NAN reports that the last game MFM FC won was on Feb. 9 in a 3-1 win over Kano Pillars on Match Day 20 at the Agege Stadium.
They lost away to Kano Pillars 1-0, then drew 0-0 against visiting Heartland of Owerri, and they lost away to FC IfeanyiUbah.
The winless streak continued with a 0-0 home draw against Rangers International FC, before they suffered an away loss to Warri Wolves.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Tunisia part company with coach Giresse after African Cup of Nations
Alain Giresse has left his job as coach of Tunisia, after nine months and having guided them to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in July.
The former France international’s departure was announced by the Tunisian Football Federation on Wednesday, who said in a brief statement that it was a mutual decision.
Giresse was appointed in December and helped them reach the last four in Egypt in spite of winning just one match at the tournament outside of a penalty shootout.
They drew their three group games and needed a shootout to get past Ghana in the last 16 before beating Madagascar 3-0 in their quarter-final game.
They lost to Senegal in the semi-finals after extra time and were also defeated by Nigeria in the third-place playoff.
It was the fifth time the Frenchman has coached a country at the AFCON after he led Gabon (2010), Mali (2012), Senegal (2015) and Mali again two years ago.
The 67-year-old has also coached at club level in Morocco, after two spells with Toulouse and a brief tenure in charge at Paris St Germain (PSG)
Giresse’s departure means 13 of the 24 coaches from last month’s tournament have left their jobs.(Reuters/NAN)
(Edited by Olawale Alabi)
News Flash: Algeria win 2019 AFCON
2019 AFCON: Football fans express divergent views on Rohr’s future
Some football enthusiasts in Awka, Anambra on Thursday expressed mixed reactions on the future of Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr with the team.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Rohr had led the team to a third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.
The football enthusiasts told NAN the team would have made it to the final if the coaching crew had made better selection and had better tactical approach.
Emeka Okeke, a sports presenter, said Rohr lacked the technical know-how and made bad selection of players.
Okeke said that most of the players he took to Egypt were less than average and were not doing well in their various clubs.
He said Rohr experimented with the players from the day he took charge of the team, adding that he should be shown the way out.
“We cannot be playing games at competitions with our hearts in our mouths, no confidence in both the players, the technical crew and the bench,” Okeke said.
Ikem Asika, a sports analyst, said Rohr showed he was not in firm control of his team and expressed worries that the domestic league has not attracted him since he was employee.
Asika alleged that most players fielded by Rohr were foisted on him by “jobbers in the Glass House”, adding that no coach would do well under such condition.
“Any coach that knows his onions must insist on his players and game plan and not be pushed around on who should play or not,” he said.
Asia added that it was not proper for Daniel Akpeyi to play ahead of Francis Uzoho or Okechukwu Ezenwa if not by “special selection”.
Jude Atupulazi, a journalist, said while the team might not have met the expectations of their teeming fans, the players still deserve some accolade.
Atupulazi said Rohr should be given more time as there were chances he would do better with the team in the future.
“The team tried, coming third out of 24 nations. It isn’t easy. So, we may have to manage Rohr in order to sustain the progress being made.
Victor Nwangwu, a veteran football administrator, said Rohr has met and surpassed the target set for him by his employers in line with the contract.
Nwangwu said the performance of the Super Eagles in Egypt was not bad as teams that had better chances to win the cup exited much earlier in the competition
“He qualified Nigeria for the World Cup, qualified Nigeria for AFCON, got a third position in the competition proper, a step more than his contractual target, and this is with the youngest Super Eagles team ever assembled by a coach.
“Ghana, Cameroon and Egypt hold superior AFCON records than Nigeria, yet they got eliminated much earlier than we were.
“What else can we say of Rohr, other than he did not win the cup? He deserves to be appreciated and of course respected,” he said.
Anthony Udennaka, a retired football referee, warned against incessant sacking and hiring of coaches to ensure sustainable progress.
Udennaka said the Super Eagles under Rohr did well but lost due to ill-luck, noting that football was an open game which any side playing could win.
“I am of the opinion that the man should be allowed to continue with his good job. Hiring and firing of coaches has never done us any good.
(Edited by Joseph Edeh and Olawale Alabi)