Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho was the hero as the super Eagles of Nigeria kick-started their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 victory against a Mohamed Salah lead Egypt on Tuesday evening in Garoua.
The Liverpool forward was the main target of neutrals, having been in exceptional form for Liverpool this season in the Premier League. Salah has scored 23 goals in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League combined for the Reds.
The Nigerians, who were without Napoli forward Victor Osimehn, dominated the game from start to finish. The 2013 champions couldn’t call on in-form Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis, 2019 AFCON top scorer Orion Ighalo and Osimhen for various reasons.
However, Nigeria dictated the pace from the start with former Liverpool player Taiwo Awoniyi threatening with his power, Moses Simon was a bigger threat on the left flank tormenting the Egyptian backline, and he was the catalyst for the opening goal.
After getting the better of the Egyptian defender on the flank, the France-based forward sent in a cross that was only cleared as far as Glasgow Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo who passed to Iheanacho, who then hit the half volley for what eventually was the game-winner.
Mohammed Salah was silent all through the game as the Egyptians cut a frustrated figure on the pitch.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the defending champions Algeria played a 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone. The Leone stars goalkeeper Mohammed Kamara was in motivated form, and he made seven saves denying the defending champions.
Guinea-Bissau were unlucky in their having struck the bar twice while also missing a penalty in the game against Sudan. It was the first clean sheet at the AFCON in over 40 years for the Sudanese, who face Nigeria in the next game.
Meanwhile, Ivory Coast will face Equatorial Guinea today, Tunisia will face Mali, and the Gambia will make their debut against Mauritania.
Written by: Daniel Ademiju Idowu