A first half strike from Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho proved enough as the Super Eagles of Nigeria secured a 1-0 victory over the Pharaohs of Egypt.
Austin Eguavoen’s side came into the tournament without their first to fourth choice strikers in Victor Osimhen, Odion Jude Ighalo, Paul Onuachu and Emmanuel Dennis as their clubs failed to release them while Injury ruled out Onuachu.
The three-time champions began their quest for a fourth in a frantic pace as they attacked from the blast of the whistle.
The first chance fell to the the Egyptians as early as the second minute as the Liverpool wizard was given the ball in a half-space on the right but he cannoned it into the Nigerian defence.
The game was stopped abruptly on three occasions before the half hour mark as the matchballs were replaced one after the other due to deflation.
The first real chance on goal came in the 27th minute as Moses Simon was played through by a delightful ball from Joe Aribo but took too much touches as he smashed it into the sidenet.
Two minutes past the half hour mark, Nigeria took the lead
Simon again dances round the left before lofting a cross into the box. The ball was cleared initially before headed back into Iheanacho by Aribo. The Leicester man took a touch before volleying the ball into the far corner.
Four minutes into the second period Taiwo Awoniyi almost doubled Nigeria’s lead as his clutch header near the goal met the crossbar although Egypt goalie Gomaa will also get a credit as he got his fingertips to it.
Again Nigeria almost double their lead in he 57th minute and this time it could have been Iheanacho’s second of the game but the for Manchester City man couldn’t latch on to a pass in the box due to a first heavy touch with goaltender Gomaa well beaten.
In the 71st minute Mo Salah almost punished Nigeria for wasting chances at the other end as he looses his two markers, tries a lob but goalkeeper Maduka Okoye proved smarter.
Two chances fell to Chidera Ejuke when he came on but were saved by Egypt’s goalkeeper similarly, Egypt almost got a penalty when Moses Simon fell on substitute Zizo but after communications with the officials in the VAR room, referee Papa Gassama made no penalty call.
The Eagles went on to thwart every late form of attack as the Egyptians threw all they got in order to get an equalizer.
1-0 it ended in victory for Eguavoen’s men as they go top of group D.
Much credit needs to be given to the teeming fans who came to the stadium to cheer the Super Eagles to victory
Nigeria’s next game is against Sudan who have a tie against Guinea Bissau later today.