Friday 21 June: 9pm KO
Live on EuroSport
Egypt are the host nation for the African Cup of Nations and will be aiming to win the tournament for the first time since 2010. They start their campaign with a game against Zimbabwe who are ranked 51 places below them in the latest FIFA world rankings.
Group A of the African Cup of Nations launches the 2019 tournament as Egypt take on Zimbabwe. The other two countries in this group are Uganda and Congo DR. Egypt are the host nation and you can get odds of 9/2 (5.5) at SkyBet on them winning this tournament.
They came close in the last African Cup of Nations, losing in the final 2-1 to Cameroon. The following year saw them qualify for the World Cup but their preparations were hit when Mo Salah suffered an injury in the Champions League final. He recovered in time for the finals in Russia but didn’t look fully fit. Egypt lost all three of their games and were soon on their way home.
2018 had been a year of two halves with poor form leading into and during the World Cup. Since their early exit though, Egypt have only lost one of their eight games. They wrapped up their preparations for this tournament with a 3-1 win over Guinea. Mo Salah came on as a sub with 29 minutes remaining but ddn’t get on the scoresheet. He’s 11/2 (6.5) with Paddy Power to be the top scorer in this tournament.
Egypt’s only defeat since the World Cup was against Nigeria who are also strongly fancied to win this tournament. The Egyptians will want to get off to a winning start and you can get odds of 1/3 (1.33) at SkyBet. The odds on them being Group A winners are 2/5 (1.4) if placing your wager with Bet365.
They do of course rely a great deal on Mo Salah. He’s the only player in their squad who has made it into double figures in terms of goals scored. The odds on him scoring in this game are 10/11 (1.91) at Betfair. If you think he’ll be the first goalscorer, then Betway will give you odds of 2/1 (3.0).
Zimbabwe are ranked 109th in the world and this is only the fourth time they have qualified for the finals of the African Cup of Nations. They have never previously made it out of their group and are 25/1 (26.0) at William Hill to win Group A.
They come into this tournament having lost only one of their last five games. That was a penalty shoot-out defeat by Zambia in the COSAFA Cup. They are 51 places below their opponents in the world rankings and are 22/1 (23.0) at Unibet to cause a shock and win this game.
Egypt have won their last three games against Zimbabwe. They are 3/1 (4.0) at Betfred to win this match with both teams scoring.
Khama Billibat may miss this game for Zimbabwe after suffering a head injury.
Seven of the last eight Zimbabwe games have had under 2.5 goals scored in them. That stat also applies to three of the last four Egypt matches. It’s 3/4 (1.75) at BetVictor the stat comes up in this match.
Egypt will want to get the tournament off to a good start with a win over Zimbabwe. Not just because they are hosts but to rid themselves of the memories of last year’s World Cup disaster. They are in good form coming into this tournament and have a fit Mo Salah who will have appreciated his rest after the Champions League final. Zimbabwe are ranked well below their opponents and a bet on Egypt to win to nil has odds of 4/9 (1.44) at BoyleSports.