In a gripping opening day of the Africa Cup of Nations, Mohamed Salah emerged as Egypt’s saviour with a dramatic injury-time penalty to salvage a 2-2 draw against Mozambique, preventing an embarrassing defeat for the seven-time champions.
Egypt, boasting a rich history in the tournament, got off to an ideal start when Mohamed found the back of the net within the opening two minutes.
However, the relentless heat and humidity in the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium appeared to take a toll on the Pharaohs, allowing Mozambique to mount a surprising comeback.
Witiness Quembo’s headed equalizer in the 55th minute ignited hopes of a historic Mozambique victory, and those dreams seemed to materialize when substitute Clesio Bauque struck to give his side a 2-1 lead just three minutes later.
The Mozambican squad, hungry for their first-ever AFCON win, displayed resilience and skill, leaving Egypt scrambling.
As the clock ticked away, it was a VAR check for a foul on Mostafa Mohamed that handed Mohamed Salah the chance to step up and rescue Egypt.
With seven minutes into injury time, Salah calmly converted from the spot, denying Mozambique the milestone victory they craved. The draw leaves both teams with a point in Group B, setting the stage for a competitive journey through the group stage.
Mozambique’s coach, Chiquinho Conde, expressed mixed emotions after the match: “I was sad seeing my players devastated at the end because we deserved the win.”
Despite the disappointment, Mozambique’s performance showcased their potential to challenge traditional powerhouses in African football.
In another Group B clash, Nigeria, led by Victor Osimhen’s goal, faced a resilient Equatorial Guinea side and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
The Super Eagles, three-time AFCON champions, were unable to secure a winning start, highlighting the competitiveness of this year’s tournament.
Meanwhile, Ghana suffered a shocking 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde in Abidjan. With both nations holding a combined 14 AFCON titles, the result underscored the unpredictability and intensity of the tournament.
The loss leaves Ghana reeling, prompting questions about their ability to navigate through a challenging group.
The events of the opening day serve as a stark reminder that AFCON 2024 is poised to be one of the most closely contested editions in recent memory.
With traditional powerhouses facing stern challenges and underdogs showing their mettle, football fans can anticipate a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the tournament.
As the group stage unfolds, teams will look to regroup and strategize for upcoming fixtures, aware that every point is vital in the quest for AFCON glory.
The drama and unpredictability witnessed on the opening day set the tone for what promises to be a thrilling journey in the quest for continental supremacy.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members