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Football: African Championship Gets Under Way


The 25th edition of the African Cup of Nations, the continent's premier football championship, kicked off Friday in Cairo, the Egyptian capital. The hosts started their quest for a record fifth title with a victory.

Egypt welcomed the 15 other African teams that qualified for the championship competition with a colorful ceremony at the Cairo International Stadium.

In the opening match the Egyptian team, known as the Pharaohs, beat neighboring Libya by three goals to zero. Mido, the Pharaohs' England-based player, opened the scoring in the 17th minute when he headed home a corner kick. Five minutes later the Pharaohs added a second goal when Terika Mohamed powered a free kick home. The third goal came in the second half after Libyan goalkeeper, Alejandro Agustini, was sent off for bringing down Hasan Zaki in the penalty area. Substitute keeper Muftah Ghazala blocked Mido's effort from the spot but Ahmed Hassan pounced on the rebound to give Egypt a third goal.

Egypt, along with Ghana and Cameroon, whose teams are also represented this year, are the only countries to win the Nations Cup four times. The Pharaohs still have to play two more matches in the group stage and then the quarter and semi finals to stand a chance to make it a record five wins.

In addition to Cairo, elimination matches will also be held in the Egyptian cities of Alexandria, Port Said and Ismailia. The final is set for the Cairo International Stadium on February 10.