Africa-Press – Nigeria. On Tuesday evening, Nigeria defeated Egypt 1-0 in their opening fixture of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Super Eagles not only won the game but they also outplayed Mo Salah and co. It would not even be an exaggeration to say the Super Eagles should have won 3-0 easily.
But, what are the five things to learn from the game in Garoua?
1. Eguavoen has done well: The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) sacked Gernot Rohr with only four weeks to the tournament. Eguavoen was drafted in to handle the team on an interim basis. With the evidence of the 90 minutes we watched, it is clear how much work he has done with the players. And that must be applauded. The tactical system ensured the team stayed compact and organized, but also expressed themselves in the attack.
2. Wide men need end product: Moses Simon was a thorn in the flesh of the Egyptians all game. He ran past their fullbacks and defenders for fun. However, his final ball left a lot to be desired. Taiwo Awoniyi who started in the middle barely had anything to feed off. Samuel Chukwueze put in a muted performance on the other wing. Chidera Ejuke was also wasteful and selfish when he came on.
3. Riches in the attack: Having said so, it is amazing that despite the withdrawals of Victor Osimhen, Odion Ighalo and Dennis Emmanuel, the Eagles team is well-stocked up front. Umar Sadiq came on to replace Awoniyi, while Peter Olayinka didn’t get off the bench. Alex Iwobi played probably a minute in the end, while Henry Onyekuru sat this one out.
4. Eagles are contenders: Let’s call a spade what it is. With this performance and result, Nigeria has made it clear to everyone else that they are not on an excursion trip in Cameroon. And it is fair to say that of all the top teams that have played so far, Eguavoen’s men have been the most impressive. However, they need to show more consistency with Sudan and Guinea-Bissau lying in wait in the subsequent group fixtures.
5. Where is Salah? The pre-game analysis was filled with one name: Mohammed Salah. But the Liverpool forward barely got a sniff. He looked desperate and desolate at times, as his teammates struggled to impose themselves on Nigeria and feed him. The 28-year-old did not even see scraps to feed on, as the Eagles’ defender kept him at bay for 90 minutes.