Iheanacho Scores As Super Eagles Defeat Egypt 1-0 In AFCON Opener
Super Eagles of Nigeria have on Tuesday defeated the Pharaohs of Egypt 1-0 in their group stage encounter at the ongoing 33rd Africa Cup of Nations in Garoua, Cameroon.
With today’s victory, Nigeria broke Egypt’s unbeaten record. Pharaohs were unbeaten in their last-16 group matches at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Before now, Egypt’s last defeat in the group phase dates back to the 2004 tournament when they lost 2-1 against Algeria.
Super Eagles, who top Group D with the victory, were dominant and impressive in the game.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored the only goal of the match as the Super Eagles outclassed the Pharaohs and took charge of group D.
The Pharaohs, who paraded Mo Salah, Ramadan Sobhi, Mohammed Elneny and Trezeguet, struggled to find their groove in a game that the Super Eagles dominated, most especially in the first half.
Iheanacho put the Eagles ahead in the 30th-minute with a stunning, long-range shot with an assist from Taiwo Awoniyi.
The England-based striker, who played behind Taiwo Awoniyi, beat Mohammed El Shenawy, Egypt’s goalkeeper, from a tight angle with his right-footed shot to hand Nigeria the lead.
During the thrilling encounter, the Pharaohs also found it difficult to break down the Super Eagles defence with Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong dealing well with long balls from the opposition.
In the second half, the Eagles continued to push for the second goal but Iheanacho couldn’t punish Egypt after they committed a blunder in the box.
Speedy winger Moses Simon played a major role when the Super Eagles took the lead at the 30,000-capacity stadium.
His cross was only partially cleared by Ahmed Hegazy and Nigerian Joseph Aribo nodded the ball into the path of Iheanacho, who hammered Mohamed Elshenawy.
Both teams launched attacks with neither side happy to sit back and invite pressure. Salah’s effort was well saved by Maduka Okoye while Chidera Ejuke’s powerful low shot was blocked by El Shenawy.
This is the ninth encounter between Nigeria and Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria hold the upper hand with four wins to Egypt’s two, although their last encounter before today’s game in 2010 went to the Pharaohs (3-1 in the group phase).
Nigeria are making their 19th appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations. They have reached the semi-finals in 14 of their last 16 AFCON participation, winning the tournament on three occasions.
This is Egypt’s 25th appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, a record in the history of the tournament.
They have won the tournament seven times, more than any other side.
Nigeria succeeded after a troubled build-up in which German coach Gernot Rohr was fired following an unimpressive World Cup qualifying run and former national star, Augustine Eguavoen took temporary charge.
Eguavoen’s squad was without forwards Victor Osimhen, Emmanuel Dennis and Odion Ighalo for a variety of reasons, but his team went on the offensive from the kick-off and did him proud.