Contesting their Africa Cup of Nations opener against Egypt, Zimbabwe battled but suffered a 1-0 defeat as Mohamed Salah et al secured the points in Group A.
Salah was lively all night but was kept uncharacteristically off the score sheet thanks to a some dedicated defending from Zimbabwe left-back Divine Lunga.
“I feel great, because the coach gave me a task today to mark Salah,” he began.
“He’s a terrific guy and I was instructed to go with him if he cut inside [on his stronger left foot] or show him outside [to his weaker right foot]. That was the task for today.
“It was hard [dealing with Salah’s movements] so I had to communicate with my defensive midfield to be aware of the positions he was taking. It was about communication only.
“I wasn’t nervous. I’d been waiting for this moment for a long time to play at the Afcon. I wanted to prove myself.
“The competition is a good stepping stone as Afcon is better than Cosafa,” the left-back added.
“It is the biggest tournament in Africa, so this is a stepping stone for us to be seen outside the continent and secure moves abroad.”
It’s a fair point, Divine Lunga also performed well. The left-back played 1 key pass, won 2/2 tackles, 1/1 aerial duel, 1 interception and 3 clearances.
I wouldn’t say he neutralised Salah though; the forward took 7 shots, 5 from Lunga’s side
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Lunga’s man-marking in Cairo seemingly worked and maybe disrupted Salah’s flow and accuracy.
Playing for South Africa’s Lamontville Golden Arrows F.C., Lunga seems to be hoping similar performances in the competition could be the audition for an offer from a club outside of Africa.
Keeping Salah quiet is no mean feat, and, while Mo might have just had a slightly off night, Divine Lunga has achieved something even some world-class defenders struggle to execute.