A 30th minute goal by Leicester City forward, Kelechi Iheanacho, was all Super Eagles needed to end Egypt’s 16-match unbeaten group games and set Nigeria’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations campaign on a perfect start.
Credit should go to interim Head Coach, Augustine Eguavoen, whose tactics on the day were clearly superior to the low depth sacked Gernot Rohr took Nigerian football to.
Moses Simon who was a thorn in the flesh of the Egyptians right from the first minute crossed from the left flank with Joe Aribo heading the ball into the feet of Iheanacho. The Leicester ‘SeniorMan’ didn’t waste time hammering with his left into Mohamed El Shenawi’s roof for Nigeria’s goal on the half hour mark.
Liverpool’s talisman, Mohamed Salah was almost made anonymous in the duration of the game by Eagles central defence marshaled by William Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo with Ola Aina and Zaidu Sanusi providing support from the right and left full backs respectively.
It therefore was no surprise that Iheanacho was voted Man of the Match at the end of regulation time.
Besides the lively Moses Simon, the strike force of Iheanacho and Taiwo Awonyi troubled the defence of Egypt. It brought back memories of the pair during the Under-17 World Cup final in UAE which Nigeria won with Manu Garba as Head coach.
Simon crashed an effort against the side netting in the 26th minute after he was set up by Joe Aribo.
In the 38th minute, Iheanacho put through Awoniyi but the goalkeeper came to the timely rescue with a brave save off the feet of the Union Berlin striker.
Seven-time champions Egypt were disappointing in the first period with a sixth minute chance conjured by Galatasaray striker Mostafa Mohamed but goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was equal to the task.
Otherwise, they hardly threatened the Nigerian goal with captain Mohamed Salah clearly anonymous.
Egypt chased the game late on in the second half but failed to get the needed equalizer to share points at stake.