Kelechi Iheanacho scored the only goal of the game to hand Nigeria a deserved 1-0 win over Egypt in their Africa Cup of Nations Group D opener at the at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua on Tuesday.
The Pharaohs put in a stuttering display in which they struggled to find any kind of foothold in the game, while the Super Eagles were more aggressive and cohesive, deservedly claiming the victory thanks to a beautifully-taken goal from Kelechi Iheanacho.
Nigeria XI: Maduka Okoye; Ola Aina, William Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Zaidu Sanusi; Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon; Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi.
Egypt XI: Mohamed El-Shennawy; Akram Tawfik, Ahmed Hegazi, Mahmoud Hamdy El-Wensh, Ahmed Fatouh; Mohamed Elneny, Hamdi Fathi, Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet, Omar Marmoush, Mohamed Salah, Mostafa Mohamed.
The game had to be stopped three minutes to send in the medical staff to take care of Akram Tawfik, who injured his leg while blocking Moses Simon’s cross. The Al Ahly player was eventually subbed-off for Mohamed Abdelmoneim.
Galatasaray striker Mostafa Mohamed, who was playing as a winger during the first 30 minutes, had Egypt’s first and only shot in the first-half but his attempt was easily caught by Okoye.
Nigeria were dominant for the remainder of the half and it was Moses Simon who was their main source of danger from the left flank. The Nantes player took Nigeria’s first shot in the 26th minute when he received the ball inside the penalty area but hit the side netting
The Super Eagles finally broke the deadlock in the 30th minute through Kelechi Iheanacho who was all alone on the edge of the penalty area and smashed the loose ball into the back of the net.
Iheanacho was close to doubling his team’s lead three minutes before the half-time whistle but his close range attempt was saved by Mohamed El-Shennawy.
Nigeria picked up right where they left off as they were able to threaten El-Shennawy in the 48th minute through Awoniyi but the Al Ahly goalkeeper was able to parry his header to the woodwork.
In the 70th minute, Omar Marmoush played a through ball to Mohamed Salah, who made a good run behind the defence. Unfortunately, the ball fell behind Salah and despite managing to control it, his shot was too weak to trouble Okoye.
Chidera Ejuke received the ball inside the penalty area and was close to sealing the deal in the 76th minute with a powerful shot in the near left post but El-Shennawy was able to save it.
Ejuke had the chance to put the game to bed but he once criminally missed.
With this win Nigeria sit on top of Group D as they wait to see the final result between Sudan and Guinea-Bissau tonight.