As day three of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is a wrap, Futbalgalore.com.ng recaps all the action, featuring Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt, and Sudan.
Day three of the Africa Cup of Nations started with the title-holders Algeria clashing with Sierra Leone at the Japoma Stadium in the first game of Group E.
Algeria XI: Raïs M’Bolhi, Aissa Mandi, Riyad Mahrez, Youcef Belaili, Sofiane Feghouli, Yacine Brahimi, Haris Belkebla, Islam Slimani, Abdelkader Bedrane, Youcef Atal, Amir Bensebaini.
Sierra Leone XI: Mohamed N Kamara, Osman Kakay, Kevin Wright, Steven Roy Caulker, John Kamara, Kuame Quee, Kei Ansu Kamara, Alhaji Kamara, Mohamed Turay, Umaru Bangura, Mustapha Bundu.
In what was expected to be a walk in the park for the title holders, Sierra Leone held their own against Algeria, forcing them to a draw in their opening game of the group stage.
Despite Algeria being the favorite to win, Sierra Leone started strong, showing confidence early on as they controlled ball possession throughout the first half of the clash.
In the second half, Sierra Leone kept pressing for a goal, and three minutes in, Alhaji Kamara thought he gave them a shocking lead, but it was ruled out for offside.
The canceled goal was a wake-up call for The Desert Warriors who started dominating the game right after.
However, every goal-scoring chance they got was stopped by Sierra Leone defenses and goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara, for their opening game to end in a goalless draw.
CAF’s Man of the Match: Mohamed Kamara (Sierra Leone).
Egypt and Nigeria clashed in the opening game of Group D, in a game in which the winner expected to top the group and avoid any tricky games in the round of 16.
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.
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.
Both teams seemed to be equal on paper going into the match, which had fans excited to watch a clash between two African giants.
Yet, the Super Eagles were unmatched for the entirety of the game, having asserted their dominance on both the attacking and defensive ends.
Leicester City striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, gave his team the lead 15 minutes before the half-time whistle. Taiwo Awoniyi then nearly doubled their lead in the 48th minute but El-Shennawy was able to parry his header on the line.
Egypt were totally out of the game which led Carlos Queiroz to bring on Ahmed Sayed Zizo and Ramadan Sobhi for Trezeguet, who was playing as number 10, and Mostafa Mohamed.
Zizo proved to be a game-changer as Egypt finally managed to keep hold of the ball for some minutes; however, the Zamalek winger who is known for his inch-perfect crosses, had no target man to find.
Nigeria could have scored at least two more goals, if it wasn’t for Mohamed El-Shennawy and eventually settled for the 1-0 victory which shot them up at the top of the group.
CAF’s Man of the Match: Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria).
The final game of the day saw Sudan take on Guinea-Bissau as both sides wanted to take advantage of the Egypt defeat to take the second-placed spot.
Sudan XI: Abu-Eshrein, Mustafa, Nemer, Mustafa Karshom, Mazin, Omer G., Abdel Raman, Al Rasheed, Omer, Hamed, Khidir.
Guinea Bissau XI: Gomis, Cande, Sangante, Mane, Encada, Nogueira, Cassama, Pele, Piqueti, Mendes, Balde.
The game was balanced between both sides, with Guinea-Bissau looking for their first-ever win in the AFCON, while 1970 champions Sudan were appearing in the tournament for the first time in 10 years.
The highlight of the game came in the 82nd minute when Sudan goalkeeper Ali Abu-Eshrein brought down Steve Ambri to give away a late decisive penalty.
Pele stepped up to take the penalty; however, it was kept out by Abu-Eshrein, before the follow-up from Piqueti cannoned back off the crossbar, for Sudan to keep their first clean sheet in the AFCON since the 1970 final.
Guinea Bissau next face Egypt while Sudan meet Nigeria, with both sides looking for nothing other than the victory to keep their qualification hopes alive.
CAF’s Man of the Match: Ali Abu-Eshrein (Sudan).