Pharaohs Defeat Warriors

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 26, 2019 10:20

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Pharaohs Defeat Warriors

By Satish Sekar at the Cairo International Stadium © Satish Sekar (June 21st 2019)

Magnificent

But for a defiant and superb performance by goalkeeper, Edmore Sibanda, standing in for the suspended George Chigova, the Pharaohs would have had an emphatic start, rather than scrape a win by the solitary ‘Trezeguet’ Mahmoud Hassan goal.

It required something special to beat Sibanda, and that was what was delivered, but not by Egypt’s man of the moment – and recent past – Mohamed Salah. Trezeguet was both the architect and finisher. His mazy run, involving a one-two with Ayman Ashraf – the easiest assist he’ll ever get – for Trezeguet to work his way into the box on the left of the area, and finally beat the fantastic Sibanda.

Meanwhile, Salah showed flashes of why he is so highly prized and coveted, but even the Pharaohs’ Pharaoh could not find a way past Sibanda, whose heroics began seconds into the match. Salah won a corner, and then delivered an inviting cross for Marwan Mohsen to test Sibanda. Not for the last time, Sibanda wasn’t found wanting.

Heroics

“We support each other,” George Chigova said. The camaraderie helps as the keepers impress when given their chance, and take non-selection well, which helps the confidence of those chosen.
The Polokwane stop-stopper, however, will get his spot back despite Sibanda’s heroic performance – the Warriors can at least console themselves by having formidable last barriers.

Sibanda almost set an Africa Cup of Nations record, making a phenomenal 8 saves in 75 minutes. He was forced off through injury after 75 minutes, making his final save of the match to prevent Marwan Mohsen doubling Egypt’s lead.

The record was set nine years ago in Angola whose Cup of Nations wasn’t just the Cabinda outrage and Egypt’s record-breaking third title in a row. Bénin’s Yoann Djidonou made a remarkable nine saves in a match, but it was not enough to help them escape the group.

Salah had eight shots at goal and Egypt dominated, especially in the first half, but only had Trezeguet’s marvellous strike to show for it.

Corrective Measures

The Pharaohs’ coach, Javier Aguirre, also Chigova paid tribute to the superb performance by Sibanda. Zimbabwe’s number one keeper said that but for Sibanda’s magnificent efforts it could have been three or four in the first half.

Aguirre admitted that Egypt’s performance was not what it could have been, but the Pharaohs are notoriously slow starters, and three points are welcome.

Zimbabwe’s coach, Sunday Chidzambwa said it was a game of two halves. The Warriors played badly in the first half – and were punished by a decisive moment of class by Trezeguet – but corrected the errors in the second half. Well almost. There was not enough creativity or goal threat.

George Chigova will regain his keeper’s spot as Chidzambwa confirmed Sibanda’s injury opened the door for Chigova. He also acknowledged that Zimbabwe would have to create more and improve their shot-selection in the final third.

Khama Billiat acknowledged that Zimbabwe did not create enough and were tepid in the final third – they’ll work on that training. They’ll have to – they face the reigning African Goalkeeper of the Year, Denis Onyango and his miserly Ugandan defence next.

Egypt’s coach, Javier Aguirre was happy with the three points, but felt that his team did not play well, and will address that. The Pharaohs, however, are notoriously slow starters.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 26, 2019 10:20