Super Eagles of Nigeria defeated Egypt 1-0 in their Group D Africa Cup of Nations Opener at Stade Omnisport Roumdé Adjia, Garoua on Tuesday.
Despite having not-too impressive pre-tournament preparations, Austin Eguavoen’s men found their rhythm in the heavyweight clash to record a first competitive win over the Egyptians since 1990.
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Nigeria started brightly in the game, limiting the North Africans to long balls in search of talisman and skipper Mohammed Salah, who found the duo of William Troost Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo difficult to beat.
Nantes winger Moses Simon, who was lively throughout the game, beat his marker for the umpteenth time to overhit his cross as Austin Eguavoen’s men kept finding spaces behind the defense of the Egyptians.
However, the period of pressure finally produced a goal as a cross from Simon was cleared into the path of Joe Aribo with the Rangers midfielder nodding down to Kelechi Iheanacho to fire into the top corner for the game’s opening goal in the 30th minute.
It was a dominant first-half performance from the 2013 champions as they went into the break in the lead.
After the interval, the intensity continued as Taiwo Awoniyi’s header struck the woodwork before goalkeeper Maduka Okoye denied Salah at the other end to preserve Nigeria’s lead as they held on for a memorable win in Garoua.
In the other group’s game, Guinea-Bissau and Sudan played out a goalless draw. Guinea-Bissau should have won late on in the game but Pele missed the spot-kick as the Wild Dogs continued their search for an AFCON win, while Sudan kept their first clean sheet in the tournament since 1970.
Toothless Champions held in Douala
Defending champions Algeria were held to a goalless draw by a dogged Sierra Leone side in their Group E opener at the Japoma Stadium.
Although they extended their unbeaten run in the competition to nine matches, the North Africans found the lowly-rated opponents difficult to break down as goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara stood strong to deny them on multiple occasions.
Sierra Leone keeper Mohamed Kamara made seven saves and kept reigning AFCON champions Algeria to a clean sheet in their draw.— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 11, 2022
It meant everything 🇸🇱 pic.twitter.com/X5BsSq2iLi
Despite dominating for large periods of the game, the Algerians could not find a breakthrough and it was the minnows who thought they had taken the lead in the 49th minute when Mohamed Buya Turay slotted past M’Bolhi. However, the joy was short-lived as referee Ahmad Heeralall disallowed the goal for an offside in the build-up.
The Fennec Foxes made several introductions in the final half-hour of the game but Kamara denied Yacine Brahimi and a host of others as the Leone Stars claimed a well-deserved point.
Photo Credit: AFP