By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
Super Eagles of Nigeria opened its 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign with a 1-0 win over the Pharaohs of Egypt in its first Group D encounter at the Stade Omnisport Roumde Adjia, Garoua, Cameroon.
Nigeria’s coach, Augustine Eguavoen started with Maduka Okoye in goal alongside Ola Aina, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost Ekong, Zaidu Sanusi, Wilfred Ndidi, Jo Aribo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, and Taiwo Awoniyi in a 4-3-3 formation.
His Egyptian counterpart, Carlos Queiroz started the game with Mohamed El Shenawy in goal, Ahmed Hegazy, Mahmoud Hamdi, Hamdi Fathi, Akram Tawfik, Mostafa Mohamed, Mohamed Elneny, Ahmed El Fotouh, Trezeguet, and Mohamed Salah in a 3-4-3 formation.
Moses Simon in the 27th minute received a brilliant pass and wasted a big opportunity as his shot from inside the penalty area flies narrowly wide off the left post.
In the 30th minute, Kelechi Iheanacho received the ball from Jo Aribo’s header and beats the Egyptian goalkeeper with a brilliant shot into the top right corner to give Nigeria the lead.
After the interval, Taiwo Awoniyi connected with a cross from out wide in the six-yard box, but only planted his header onto the bar in the 48th minute.
Mohamed Salah in the 71st minute runs with the ball towards the Nigerian goalkeeper and pulls the trigger from close range, but Maduka Okoye anticipated his intention and made an amazing save to stop the shot from going low into the middle of the target.
Chidera Ejuke who replaced Samuel Chukwueze received a precise low pass inside the box, controlled it, and sent it straight at Mohamed El Shenawy, who made a comfortable save in the 77th minute.
Nigeria moved to the top of the group ahead of Guinea Bissau’s game with Sudan and will next face Sudan in its second Group D game on January 15, 2022, while Egypt will play Guinea Bissau on the same day.
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