The Super Eagles of Nigeria recorded a 1-0 win over the Pharaohs of Egypt on Tuesday night, January 11.
Egypt went into their first Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) match with high hopes, possessing in-form Liverpool striker Mo Salah, but the mercurial forward was clinically cut off for long spells in the game as a tactical Kelechi Iheanacho strike put Nigeria ahead on the 30 minutes mark.
For the first 20 mins it looked like Egypt controlled possession but Nigeria’s goal put the Pharaohs off balance and the Joe Aribo – Wilfred Ndidi combination stifled the Egyptians from making progressive runs into Nigeria’s defence.
Awoniyi nearly scored Super Eagles’ second goal in the 37th and 41st minutes but was stopped by Egypt’s goalkeeper, El Shenawy.
This goal spurred Nigeria and a clumsy touch from Iheanacho made him to spurn a chance to double his tally.
Egypt had one chance in the second half when Nigeria’s defence seemingly thought Salah had been caught offside, but the Egyptian couldn’t lift the ball over Maduka Okoye. If Salah were to name his nemesis, he would surely have called out Watford’s William Troost-Ekong, a nightmare for the Egyptian all night.
Nigerian substitute Chidera Ejuke could have cemented his country’s win in the final minute, but his length-of-the-pitch break was hit straight at El Shenawy.
With the win Nigeria now sit top of their group. Historically, Nigeria has been one of the best teams in African football and in 1994 they came fifth in the FIFA rankings, the highest position ever reached by an African team. Nigeria have won the Nations Cup three times – most recently in 2013 – and came third at the last tournament in 2019.
Egypt, another favorite for the tournament have won CAN a record seven times, most recently in 2010.
Watch the goal below
#TeamNigeria absolutely full value for their lead at half time…
Iheanacho with a brilliant finish to put them 1-0 up, and to be honest I’ve seen no threat from Egypt whatsoever.
The Super Eagles haven’t really even broke sweat yet. #AFCON2021 pic.twitter.com/kyHXHzY7l3
— Joe Crann (@YesWeCrann) January 11, 2022