By Nehru Odeh
The Super Eagles of Nigeria started their campaign in the ongoing African Nations Cup tournament in Cameroon on a good note, beating the Pharaohs of Egypt 1-0, one of the tournament’s favorites. It was Kelechi’s Iheanacho’s strike in the 30 minutes that made the difference in the keenly contested tie.
However, though the match statistics say Egypt had more ball possession, the Super Eagles of Nigeria actually dominated the entire encounter. Jay-Jay Okocha, Nigeria’s football legend and former captain of the Super Eagles, faulted the statistics while analysing the match on Super Sports, wondering why it says the Pharaohs had more ball possession, whereas the Super Eagles had more attempts at goal.
Mohammed Salah, the Egyptian striker who plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League was a shadow of himself, as Nigerian players made sure his presence wasn’t felt on the pitch.
Though Iheanacho was Man of the Match, Nigeria’s Moses Simon, who contributed to Iheanacho’s goal, was actually the most valuable player on the field of play. Not only did he show great skills, he gave the Egyptian defence so much trouble.
With the kind of performance players like Moses Simon, Joe Aribo and Maduka Okoye (the goalkeeper) put up, it has sent a clear warning to other teams in the tournament.
After a dominant first half, Nigeria continued where they left off in the second half confining the Egyptians to their half and Taiwo Awoniyi seeing the woodwork in the process.
The Egyptians never really looked like they were going to hurt Austin Eguavoen’s side and will now hope to get their campaign running in their next match against Guinea Bissau.
Chidera Ejuke, Sodiq Umar, Kelechi Nwakali, Semi Ajayi and Alex Iwobi came on as substitutes for Samuel Chukwueze, Taiwo Awoniyi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon respectively.
Nigeria’s next game is against Sudan on Saturday.