Two of Africa’s biggest footballing nations face each other in their opening match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in one of the headline group stage fixtures of the tournament.
Three-time winners Nigeria trade tackles with seven-time champions Egypt in Garoua on Tuesday, with the winner of the encounter likely to finish top of Group D.
It is a matchup rich in history at the Afcon, with the West Africans holding a slight advantage with three wins in regulation time, one victory after extra-time and penalties, and two defeats in eight meetings.
Their first-ever faceoff at the 1963 Afcon in Ghana was, however, Nigeria’s heaviest defeat to the North Africans.
Egypt, then known as the United Arab Republic because of their political association with Syria, handed a 6-3 thrashing to the Nigerians, who were making their maiden appearance in the competition.
Interestingly, Sudan was also in the same Group B, and they equally defeated Nigeria 4-0 to ensure that the debutants finished last of the three-team group.
Nigeria, however, exacted their pound of flesh at Ethiopia ’76, where a Haruna Ilerika brace and a Muda Lawal strike powered the Eagles to a 3-2 triumph over the Pharaohs. And it was that nail-biting win that ensured Nigeria finished above Egypt in third place behind winners Morocco and runners-up Guinea.
Nigeria hosted and won the 1980 edition of the competition, beating all-comers, including North African foes Algeria in the final.
A Christian Chukwu-inspired Eagles shot down the Egyptians at the Surulere Stadium, Lagos, courtesy of a lone Okey Isima goal during the group stage.
Again, Nigeria had the last laugh when both sides met at the semifinals of Ivory Coast ’84.
After going two goals down early in the first half, strikes from the legendary Stephen Keshi and Mohammed Bala drew Nigeria back on levelled terms. And the Eagles triumphed over the Egyptians after extra-time and penalties and proceeded to the final where they lost 3-1 to Cameroon.
The first goalless draw between the two sides played out in the group stage of Morocco ’88. But it was the point the Nigerians needed to top Group B and qualify for the knockout round alongside Cameroon, with Egypt and Kenya sent home.
It was Nigeria vs. Egypt again at Algiers ’90. But despite losing their opening Group A match scandalously to the hosts, the Eagles recovered in time to sail past Egypt thanks to a solitary Rashidi Yekini strike.
The Eagles made it to the final, where they lost, yet again, to Algeria.
The second goalless draw between the two rivals came up at Tunisia ’94 in their seventh meeting at the Afcon.
Egypt topped the three-team group, though, having thumped Gabon 4-0, the same side Nigeria defeated 3-0. But it was the Eagles who got to the final and lifted their second continental crown after edging Zambia 2-1 in Tunis.
Egypt’s 47-year search for a second win over Nigeria at the Afcon finally arrived in the most recent faceoff between the two African giants at the group stage of Angola 2010.
Both teams qualified from Group C, but the Pharaohs were superior, having forced a 3-1 defeat down the throat of the Super Eagles inside the Estádio Nacional de Ombaka in Benguela.
Which team will triumph when a Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt file out against the Augustine Eguavoen-tutored Eagles in Garoua on Tuesday? Time will tell.