Lone Kelechi strike claims massive win for Eagles

Superstar Salah kept quiet by dominant Nigeria

Neville Khoza Journalist
Iheanacho Kelechi of Nigeria celebrates goal with teammates during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals match.
Iheanacho Kelechi of Nigeria celebrates goal with teammates during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals match.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

A first-half goal by Kelechi Iheanacho was enough for Nigeria to register their famous 1-0 win against Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group D at the Stade Omnisport de Garoua in northern Cameroon yesterday.

It was the biggest game of the tournament so far and Nigeria may have sent a statement to their rivals with this victory.

All eyes were on Mohamed Salah as he came into the tournament with a remarkable 16 goals and nine assists in his 20 league matches for Liverpool in the English Premiership this season.

The 29-year-old is in the form of his life and many wanted to see if he could translate it to the Afcon starting with Nigeria yesterday.

But it was not to be as he was left frustrated by Nigeria and was left isolated. There is a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders to spearhead the Pharaohs to a record-extending eighth Afcon victory in Cameroon after his scintillating form at club level.

Egypt faced a difficult start in their quest to reclaim the title they won three times in a row between 2006 and 2010, against three-time winners Nigeria as they got off to a losing start.

It was the Super Eagles who were seeing much of the ball in the opening half and were the better side in the first stanza.

And it was not long before the deadlock was broken as Iheanacho opened the scoring at the half-hour mark. Iheanacho connected a cross from Moses Simon and the Leicester City man fired a wonderful half volley into the roof of the net. 

It was all Nigeria in the first half with Egypt struggling to create even a decent scoring opportunity.

The Super Eagles had chances to increase their lead but could not convert them. Salah hardly touched the ball in the opening half as the Pharaohs failed to link up with him and was so isolated as Nigeria took a slender advantage to the interval.

The Egyptians failed to deal with Simon on the left flank, who gave them all sorts of problems. But after a few subs, Egypt were finally coming into the game and were starting to be threatening but could not find that equalising goal.  

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