THE DAY REPLAYED – Egypt and Ghana, the two most successful nations in the history of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, made their grand entrance at Gabon 2017 on Tuesday, but only the Black Stars lived up to their lofty status, recording a hard-fought win over Uganda. The Egyptians, meanwhile, found the going tough against a lively Mali side and will likely be satisfied with a point in the end.
The day’s results
Ghana 1-0 Uganda
Mali 0-0 Egypt
Losing finalists two years ago, Ghana managed to pocket all three points against Uganda, who were making their first appearance in the competition since reaching the final in 1978. After dominating the early exchanges, the Black Stars stepped up the pressure on the Ugandan rearguard until Isaac Isinde’s foul on Asamoah Gyan led to a penalty, which was coolly converted by Andre Ayew. In the second half, Avram Grant’s players dropped off physically but succeeded in holding on to their precious lead, which will stand them in good stead ahead of their much-anticipated clash with Mali on Saturday.
Les Aigles could prove to be tough opponents, if their tight encounter with Egypt – towards the end of which they could even have snatched a win – is anything to go by. Despite featuring some moments that were pleasing on the eye, this game was sorely lacking in scoring opportunities. Marwan Mohsen came closest to breaking the deadlock for Egypt, his powerful header bringing out the best in Mali goalkeeper Oumar Sissoko. The final minutes belonged to the energetic Malians, who pushed hard but failed to penetrate the Egyptian defence.
Highlight of the day
In Port-Gentil on Tuesday, the crowds were out in force to catch Egypt in action. The Cup of Nations’ most historically successful competitors, who boast no fewer than seven titles, including three successive triumphs between 2006 and 2010, made a welcome return to the continental stage after missing the last three tournaments.
44 – The age of Egyptian custodian Essam El-Hadary, who became the oldest player to appear at the Cup of Nations. By replacing the injured Ahmed El-Shenawy in the 25th minute of the Pharaohs’ match with Mali, the national icon surpassed the previous record holder, his compatriot Hossam Hassan, who was 39 years, five months and 24 days old when he competed at the tournament in 2006.
Wednesday 18 January (all times local)
Gabon-Burkina Faso (17.00)
The winners of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 will represent the continent at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.