Tunisia captain Youssef Msakni led by example by squaring Taha Khenissi to score the only goal as the Carthage Eagles overcame Egypt in their Group J Day One clash on Saturday in Tunis.
The Qatari-based forward, by far his side’s busiest player on the pitch with his constant raids upfront, sent a through ball to Khenissi to score the only goal of the match three minutes after the break.
Msakni was too hot to handle for the Egyptian backline which revolved around Ahmed Fathy, Ahmed Hegazy, Ali Gabr and Mohamed Abdelshafy, keeping the visitors’ defence on their toes until he was replaced by Naima Sliti in the dying minutes.
Being the first competitive match for returnee coach, Nabil Maaloul, much was expected from the Tunisians and they made their intent clear with raids towards the Egyptians area from the onset.
Few minutes into game, defender Syam Ben Youssef was unlucky to see his header rattle the post to the relief of the Pharaohs. Minutes later, Egyptian goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy was forced to make a save off Msakni’s low shot before Gabr saved the situation by stopping the latter’s effort with his feet.
After failing to find the breakthrough, the Tunisians finally broke the deadlock on 48 minutes after a Msakni through pass found Khenissi, who fired past onrushing Ekramy for the goal that separated the two sides.
Abdallah Said’s effort that missed target on 56 minutes was the closest the Pharaohs came to drawing even in their improved second half.
The result sends Tunisia to the summit of Group J on three points, two more than Niger and Swaziland which played to a barren stalemate in the other clash earlier on Saturday in Niamey. Egypt is at the bottom pointless.
Elsewhere in Blida, Algeria labored to a narrow win over Togo in Group D. Sofiane Hanni’s 24th minute was enough for “Les Fennecs” to start their campaign on a winning note.
Algeria share top spot with Benin, who beat Gambia by a similar scoreline in Cotonou also on Sunday.
A hat-trick by Knowledge Musona sealed a 3-0 win for Zimbabwe over Liberia G whilst Geoffrey Sserenkuma’s 83rd minute strike handed Uganda a 1-0 away win over Cape Verde in Praia.
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