A beautiful evening in Garoua, Cameroon, ended with a fine Nigerian victory over Egypt in their opening Group D match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
A superb 30th-minute strike from Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho secured the Eagles’ first win in more than 30 years at the Afcon over the Pharaohs.
Honestly, the scoreline did not tell half the story. The Egyptians could have lost by a heavier margin but for poor finishing and indecision at crucial moments by the Nigerians.
Not many expected the Eagles to be so dominant against a team skippered by arguably the best player in the world at the moment.
But the three-time African champions did it in style, and below are the things we learnt from that triumph.
1. Sacking Gernot Rohr is the NFF’s best decision of 2021
It came in the last month of the year and seemingly threw the preparation for the Afcon in disarray, but giving the German manager the boot is now clearly an inspired move.
The Super Eagles’ energetic and purposeful display on Tuesday made a mockery of his slow, reactive style.
The same players he deployed for five years suddenly under Augustine Eguavoen looked like a completely different and refreshing team: a massive effort that cannot be faulted, concentration from start to finish, organisation in defence, coupled with speed and flair in attack.
Can the NFF kindly announce the sacking of Rohr again?
2. The Eagles do not need a foreign coach
It is clear that Portuguese tactician Jose Peseiro has already been engaged, but God helps him if his Eagles lack the intensity and dynamism evident in Eguavoen’s Eagles.
Rohr is the longest-serving Nigerian national team coach. Peseiro’s tenure may be the shortest.
In only 90 minutes of football, Eguavoen has shown that he is a better coach than Rohr.
He deserves respect, the full credit for the victory over Egypt, and the Super Eagles’ job permanently should he take this team to the semifinals playing this brand of exciting football.
Also read: Peseiro is the best Nigeria can get but what happens to Eguavoen if the Super Eagles win the AFCON?
3. Football is easy for Aribo
Rangers fans have been singing his praises all season after following one brilliant performance with another.
And apart from those excellent showings against Brazil and Ukraine in 2019, his performance versus Egypt is his best in the green and white kit.
Against Mo Salah and co, Aribo won all his ground duels (4/4) and completed all his take-ons (1/1), flaunting his creative and defensive abilities for all to see.
It is so easy to fall in love with him.
4. A possessed Ola Aina is a scary monster
The Egyptians could not get anywhere close to Aina for an hour and a half. A constant terror marauding up and down the right flank, Aina outshone Chukwueze in front of him and the Egyptian attackers set against him.
The Torino wing-back had 100% take-on success, made the most tackles (6), had the most touches (68), made two interceptions, delivered two crosses, fired two shots, and was not dribbled past once.
Give me a shot of the Aina tonic, please.
5. Iheanacho is different gravy
Individually and collectively, the Super Eagles were fantastic against Egypt.
Every single one of them.
Moses Simon was the tormentor-in-chief, Ndidi was solid, Sanusi had a memorable evening, Awoniyi showed glimpses of an all-round striker, and Aribo delivered a performance for the ages.
Still, Iheanacho towered above them all with that beautiful, match-winning goal.
The way he took down Aribo’s header, knew just the amount of time he had before the defender closed him up, and the technique that generated enough power on the ball to give the goalkeeper no chance.
Nobody else in the Super Eagles could have scored that goal exactly like that.
Hats off to the Leicester City man who could be the star of the Afcon in his maiden appearance.
To Sudan now. Africa, beware. The Eagles have landed.
What next to do is to focus on utilizing chances created on time then eagles are done to lifting their fourth afcon.
I was among those clamoring for Rohr ‘s dismissal, I am not regretting because I am getting results this is the first time in so many years super eagles played an interesting football, when I saw the formation and the lineup I said to myself this is an attacking formation Egypt will definitely get the run for their money.
Kudos guys..your good performance was widely anticipated from the sack of Rohr, his style of play is nothing to write home about .
Pls don’t be carried by this win and don’t allow complicency to come in, be focused and bring back the cup home.
Best of luck guys. Up Naija.
Yes, as i said in my pre match post that Super Eagles will fly past the Pharaohs.It has come to past contrary to what Sayed which against Nigeria.Super Eagles need still up their game against Sudan side because withing them,they May be having the thought of spanking surprise to the Super Eagles.Dear Eagles take the Match as if your lives depend on it,play them all out.Concentration and team work will take you to the peak of this tournament.Mr. Austin’s you were great in your tactics and i wish God will continue to give you the wisdom that will guide you towards achieving the needful.Super Eagles please take your chances and use them well.I see you wining the championship come 6th February 2022.
The performance of the super Eagles was superb and justifies the sacking of Rohr who doesn’t even believe in the ability of his players in the first place. They can go all the way if they don’t allow complacency to set in and take their chances.
The game against Egypt yesterday, was marvelous and pretty to watch. Unlike during Rohr’s era, when any one with high blood pressure or heart problems, could not watch his team play, because, it could trigger off a massive heart attack. Watching our Super Eagles play against Egypt yesterday, gave many Nigerians, the hope of something better in the offing, during and after this AFCON championship. With Victor Osimhen in the team yesterday, the scorelines would have been massive. Therefore, the coach needs to focus more on the attack, in order to have a balanced and potent team moving forward. Dessers, Dennis and Amaoo should be given the opportunity to compete in the team.