The Super Eagles of Nigeria got their AFCON 2021 campaign off to a winning note and a perfect start, as they recording a 1-0 win over the Pharaohs of Egypt in Garoua this evening.
It is the Super Eagles’ first win over Egypt at the AFCON since the 1990 edition in Algiers.
Leicester City forward,
Kelechi Iheanacho was the hero as his brilliant first half volley sealed the deserved win for the Super Eagles. He was voted as the TotalEnergies Man of the Match after the crucial encounter, which most soccer pundits predicted would be won by Egypt.
Liverpool star, forward Mohamed Salah was surprisingly caged throughout the encounter which the Eagles dominated.
Egypt had the first chance on goal in the 5th minute through Mostafa Mohamed from the right, but his low shot was saved by Maduka Okoye in goal for the Eagles.
The Pharoahs were forced into an early change as Akram Tawfik went off injured and was replaced by Mohamed Abdelmoner.
Egypt again broke lose on a counter attack in the 31st minute, but Okoye’s timely response thwart the danger.
Moses Simon had the Eagles’ first clear chance much later, as he was played on by Joe Aribo, but he hit the side netting.
The Eagles’ domination was rewarded through Iheanacho on 30 minutes, as he controlled Aribo’s header with his thigh before unleashing a brilliant left-foot volley into the top corner.
Awoniyi almost doubled the Eagles’ lead in the 37th minute, after he was played on by Iheanacho on a fast break, but the Union Berlin striker’s curled shot was not enough to trouble the Egyptian keeper.
A minute later, Ndidi went close with a low left foot strike close to the edge of the Egyptian box but his effort went off target.
The Eagles continued their dominance in the second half, and almost doubled their lead through Awoniyi but his header from a tight angle was palmed on to the bar by the opponent’s keeper.
Iheanacho should have gotten his second goal on 57 minutes but his control of the pass was not good enough, with the goal at his mercy.
The Egyptians came out for the equalizer and went close following a cross but William Troost-Ekong made a timely clearance.
Salah almost drew his side level in the 71st minute, after he beat the offside trap, but Okoye was there early to safe the situation.
Ejuke’s efforts would have made it 2-0, but his effort was blocked for a corner, with few minutes to go.
The Super Eagles will return to action on Saturday, January 15 against Sudan, while Egypt will battle Guinea-Bissau same day.