Mali 0-0 Egypt
Egypt and Mali played out a disappointing goalless draw to kick off their Group D campaigns in front of a lively but occasionally bored crowd.
On a poor pitch that made passing football difficult, Mali dominated a stop-start first half in which the two best chances fell to Lassana Coulibaly from crosses but he failed to connect on both occasions.
Egypt’s attacking talent, headlined by Mohamed Salah, were kept quiet and fared little better after the break when Salah was perhaps lucky not to see red after he caught Yacouba Sylla with a nasty late challenge.
Egypt’s goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary became the oldest player in the tournament’s history. The 44-year-old, who had been Egypt’s first-choice keeper for two World Cup qualifiers late last year, was dropped for Tuesday’s match, but came on in the 23rd minute after Ahmed El-Shenawi injured himself scrambling to tip away a curling cross.
Both these sides are next in action on Saturday when Mali face Ghana and Egypt play Uganda.
Egypt fail to impress. Egypt may not have qualified since 2010 but they’re still the most successful side in the history of the tournament so expectations are high. They looked ponderous and short of ideas today though as there were comprehensively outplayed. Yes they weren’t helped by conditions and only four of this squad have been to a tournament before, so it may take some time for them to adapt, but this performance won’t have anybody worried.