Saturday Nov 09, 2019. 10:00
Hosts Egypt made a winning start to the 2019 Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations following a narrow 1-0 success over Mali in Cairo.
Mostafa Mohamed scored the only goal of the game with a header on the half-hour mark as he connected with Ahmed Aboul-Fotouh’s cross.
Mali had their moments too, Boubacar Taore forced a brilliant save from Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Sobhy late on, while Ibrahima Kone struck a post early in the second period.
It was a nervy start from Egypt, but the three points will be all that matters for coach Shawky Gharib, who admits injuries have taken their toll on his side.
“The opening game is always stressful for players and it affects their performance,” he said. “I got instructions from the medical staff to sub off Mostafa Mohamed, as they were worried he wouldn’t be available for the next games.
“We have very influential players in our squad who got injured like Nasser Maher, Mohamed Mahmoud, Taher Mohamed Taher. Their absence is going to affect us, I wanted Nasser Maher to be present as he’s very important player for us. I hope he has a small injury and for him to come back next game.
“We took advantage of their mistakes, they are a very good side, that’s why we made sure to close the spaces.
“We made some mistakes but we also have some positives. We’ll fix our mistakes in the upcoming games. We still haven’t secured qualification yet we just won three points,” he said.
Egypt are next in action on Monday when they face Ghana, while Mali take on Cameroon.