Lackluster Egypt lose to Nigeria in Nations Cup opener

Ahram Online , Tuesday 11 Jan 2022

Egypt began their Nations Cup campaign with a 1-0 loss to Nigeria in the opening game of Group D in Garoua on Tuesday.

Egypt s forward Mohamed Salah reacts during the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Egypt at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 11, 2022. AFP

Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winner in the 30th minute to give the Super Eagles a winning start and a top spot.

The Pharaohs lacked inspiration in the first half against Nigeria, who had several occasions to increase their lead, but they managed to improve in the second half especially with the introduction of Ahmed ‘Zizio’ Sayed and Ramadan Sobhi at the hour-mark.

Egypt’s coach Carlos Quieroz gave Aston Villa right winger Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan a surprising place in his starting line-up despite his late return from a lengthy period of absence (nine months) due to an ACL injury.

Trezeguet was deployed on the right of a three-midfield instead of his usual position as right winger. He failed to make his presence felt during 60 minutes before making ways to Ahmed ‘Zizo’ Sayed.

Quieroz also introduced striker Mostafa Mohamed as a right winger, giving Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah a central role but that manoeuver didn't pay off.

With these modifications, the Egyptian side seemed disjointed as they were incapable of making any threat in the attack and they appeared vulnerable in the defence.   

The Pharaohs were dealt an early blow as right back Akram Tawfik had to leave the game after 10 minutes due to a knee injury, making ways for debutant Mohamed Abdel-Moneam.

The latter struggled several times against Nigeria winger Simon Moses who created constant threat with his darting runs on the left flank.

He hit the side netting midway through the first half and sent a brilliant cross to Iheanacho at the far post inside the 30 minutes.   

Four minutes later he eased past Abdel-Moneam before sending a nice cross, cleared by Ahmed Hegazi but Iheanacho picked the rebound unmarked in the area to fire him the first goal.

The Super Eagles wasted a couple of chances to double the lead with Moses and Ndidi firing next to the post.

A better half

The second half saw a relative improvement in the Pharaohs performance especially after the introduction of Zizo and Ramadan Sobhi.

In the 70th minute Zizo set up Salah behind the defence but his weak shot was blocked by the keeper.

Egypt have a penalty claim 10minutes later after a foul on Zizo in the area but the referee waves play on. VAR confirmed the decision.

As Egypt pressed forward in an attempt to grab the equaliser, Nigeria were dangerous on the counter and keeper El-Shennawi had to make some impressive saves to deny Ejuke on two occasions late in the game.

Egypt will  face Guinea Bissau on Saturday while Nigeria will take on Sudan in the same day.


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