By Beng Emmanuel
Nigeria produced a commanding display to beat record 7-times winners Egypt 1-0 in their Africa Cup of Nations group D opener.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored a sublime goal at the half hour mark to hand his team a vital win prompting celebrations among fans at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua.
The Super Eagles were rewarded for their blistering start despite being deprived of three key players from the competition; Odion Ighalo, Victor Osinhem and Paul Onuachu under interim head coach Augustine Eguavoen who took over last month.
They were the most dangerous side throughout the encounter with Moses Simon and Kelechi Iheanacho the main catalyst behind their deserved victory.
The damage was done in the first half before the break when Leicester forward Iheanacho lashed in a beautiful finish from the edge of the box and although Mohamed El-Shenawy stretched wide couldn’t save it.
It could have been a more comfortable score line if they properly made use of their chances with those from Wilfred Ndidi, and Taiwo Awoniyi wasted. There was also time for some late drama from substitute Chidera Ejuke who raced from the center half but saw his effort saved by El-Shenawy.
Egypt’s plans to outclass their rivals completely backfired. Their defense was completely ribbed apart, and had little to offer on the offensive. They could only managed 4 shots with two on target from Mohamed Salah.
The win and emphatic display is a strong statement from Nigeria who are on the hunt for the fourth continental crown. The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations title hopeful, who sit top of their group face Sudan in their next game. Egypt on their part challenge Guinea Bissau.
Nigeria 1-0 Egypt
[Kelechi Iheanacho 30’]