Hosts Egypt kicked off their Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 win against Mali in Group A on Friday at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo.
Mali, who had more ball possession and attempts on goal, failed to make their dominance count in the tournament’s opening match.
Mostafa Abdalla scored the only goal of the game in the 28th minute. The Zamalek forward rose highest to powerfully head the ball past Youssouf Koita following a cross from Ahmed Aboul Fetouh.
Both sides were unable to score a goal thereafter with Mali coming closest in the second half after Egypt’s Mohamed Sobhi saved a header Ali Malle and Ibrahima Kone crashed the rebound against the post.
Sobhi also saved a long-range effort late in the game and managed to hold onto the rebound.
In the group’s other game, Cameroon drew 1-1 with Ghana at the same venue.
Franck Evina opened the scoring for the Indomitable Lions in the 58th minute curling in a brilliant free-kick.
Mohammed Habib equalized for the Black Meteors with four minutes of normal time left stabbing home from close range after Cameroon failed to deal with a loose ball in the penalty area.
The results mean Egypt tops Group A with three points followed by Cameroon and Ghana respectively on one point. Mali is bottom of the group without a point.
In today’s games in Group B, Nigeria takes on Côte d’Ivoire and later on South Africa plays Zambia. Both games will be played at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.