The three-time went into the game as the slight underdogs, but they were dominant from start to finish to start their 2021 Africa Cup of Nation with an important win
Kelechi Iheanacho was the hero as Nigeria kicked off their quest for a fourth AFCON title with a 1-0 win over Egypt at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Nigeria went into the competition with doubts surrounding the team due to a far from ideal preparation. But the poor preparation did not have an effect on the team as they outclassed the seven-time AFCON kings from start to finish.
Unlike previous performances, the Super Eagles started on the front foot, dictating the pace of the game. The Egyptians, who had Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah up front, could not match Nigeria’s intensity.
Austin Eguavoen’s men pressed well, with Moses Simon also impressing on the flanks. However, despite dominating the early proceedings, Nigeria had to wait until the half-hour mark before finding the breakthrough.
The Super Eagles took the lead in the 30th minute, courtesy of a brilliant strike from Kelechi Iheanacho. The Leicester City man fired in a fine volley after the impressive Joe Aribo found him with a pass that came off his chest.
The three-time AFCON champions continued to threaten after the goal and almost doubled their lead after Iheanacho set up Taiwo Awoniyi, but the Union Berlin striker could only fire straight at the goalkeeper.
Nonetheless, Nigeria went into the break with the lead. The Super Eagles resumed the second half like they ended the first, with Simon lively yet again.
However, they could not convert their chances despite getting into dangerous positions. They almost rued those misses after Mo Salah was presented with a rare chance.
Before the chance, Salah had been anonymous, with just 14 touches in the first half, the fewest among Egypt players.
But Maduka Okoye made a fine save to preserve Nigeria’s lead. With time running out, Eguavoen made a couple of changes which include Chidera Ejuke for Samuel Chukwueze.
Ejuke had two big chances to put the game beyond doubt, but he fired straight at the keeper on the two occasions.
Nonetheless, the misses did not matter as Nigeria held on for a famous win. The Super Eagles will now turn their attention to their second game in Group D against Sudan on Saturday.