The 30,000 –capacity Stade Roumdé Adjia in the northern Cameroonian town of Garoua will be the venue as the opening match of Group D of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations pits the Super Eagles of Nigeria against the Pharaohs of Egypt.
This fixture has gained reputation over the years as it is one of the most played fixtures of the Nations cup as it has been played nine times only behind Cameroon-Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire-Egypt and Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana, all of which have been played 10 times.
Comparing both teams achievement in the tournament isn’t a fair fight with all due respect to the Super Eagles. The seven titles won by the Pharaohs when juxtaposed with the rest of the continent shows they all stand no chance except Cameroon who have won it five times and maybe Ghana’s four titles gets them into the picture but Nigeria’s three certainly isn’t enough. Infact, if Nigeria’s three titles are doubled, it will still be one short of Egypt’s seven.
The Egyptians made a clean sweep of the first two editions of the continental showpiece in 1957 and 1959 and then went on to host and win in 1986.
12 years later they were crowned Champions and they would go on to achieve a three peat as they completed a hat-trick of titles (2006, 2008 and 2010).
The green and white colours shone brightly in 1980 as Nigeria won her first ever Afcon title and it was on home soil, they went on to secure a second in 1994 in Tunisia before defying all odds to be crowned champions at the 2013 edition in South Africa.
However considering other factors, Nigeria thus stake a claim and relevance in the comparison.
In terms of FIFA rankings, both sides are only separated by a spot as Nigeria are ranked fifth in Africa and 36th in the world while Egypt occupy sixth in Africa and 37th in the world.
Also in terms of previous Afcon encounters, Nigeria have the edge over their North-African counterparts.
The first meeting between both sides ended in a 6-3 hammer of Nigeria in the 1963 nations cup then the Pharaohs had to wait for 47 years before they could get another victory when they came from behind to win 3-1 in the Angola 2010 Nation’s Cup.
Nigeria’s first victory came en route the Afcon 1980 triumph as they breezed past Egypt 1-0 in the Group stage in Ibadan. Four years later in Ivory Coast, Nigeria won on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the Semi-finals.
At Algeria in 1990, Nigeria defeated Egypt by a lone goal in the group stage courtesy of Rashidi Yekini. Four years later, both sides settled for a goalless draw.
Carlos Queiroz’ Egypt will be looking towards FIFA The Best Award 2021 nominee, Mohammed Salah to do the damage when they take on the Eagles come Tuesday in Garoua.
Although Austin Eguavoen’s Super Eagles of Nigeria currently have no focal point in the attack but responsibility is much likely to rest on Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi, Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze to do the damage.
It’s noteworthy that Carlos Queiroz who is the current head coach of Egypt was Iran’s coach at the 2014 FIFA world cup and faced Nigeria in a 0-0 opening match draw.
The Pharaohs’ last loss in a group stage game of Afcon came in 2004 against Algeria.
A victory for the Eagles will set the tone for the other two games and put them in a safe spot to qualify for the Knockouts.