Follow

Iheanacho overshadows Salah, Mahrez at Africa Cup of Nations

By , People Daily Digital
Thursday, January 13th, 2022 00:00 | 2 mins read
Egypt’s defender Ahmed Hegazi (L) vies for the ball against Nigeria forward Kelechi Iheanacho during their Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 match at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on Tuesday night. Photo/AFP

Yaoundé, Wednesday

Kelechi Iheanacho overshadowed fellow Premier League stars Mohamed Salah and Riyad Mahrez on Tuesday as Nigeria made a winning start to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign and title-holders Algeria were held.

The Leicester City forward scored the only goal on 30 minutes as Nigeria overcame lacklustre Egypt 1-0 in a clash of Group D big guns in the northwestern city of Garoua.

His match winner and overall performance earned Iheanacho the man-of-the-match award on a day when prolific Liverpool scorer Salah and Manchester City winger Mahrez failed to sparkle.

Captain Salah cut an isolated, frustrated, figure at the Stade Roumde Adjia and when he did get a scoring chance in the second half, his prod was saved by the boot of goalkeeper Maduka Okoye. 

It was an otherwise uneventful evening for the Nigeria shot-stopper, who must have anticipated being called into action more often against the record seven-time African champions.

Like a final

“We had three things in mind winning, retaining possession and cutting off the supply to Salah,” said Nigeria caretaker coach Augustine Eguavoen.

“Every game will be treated like a final because each team in Cameroon must be respected regardless of the name of the country.

“There are no minor football nations anymore in Africa so if you do not plan and make the effort, you can be shocked.”

This was the eighth meeting of the Super Eagles and the Pharaohs in the flagship African tournament and three-time champions Nigeria have won four and drawn two.

Nigeria succeeded after a troubled build-up in which German coach Gernot Rohr was fired following an unimpressive World Cup qualifying run and former national star Eguavoen took temporary charge.

Eguavoen’s squad was without forwards Victor Osimhen, Emmanuel Dennis and Odion Ighalo for a variety of reasons, but his team went on the offensive from the kick-off and did him proud.

Speedy winger Moses Simon played a major role when the Super Eagles took the lead at the 30,000-capacity stadium.

His cross was only partially cleared by Ahmed Hegazy and Nigerian Joseph Aribo nodded the ball into the path of Iheanacho, who hammered a half-volley past goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy. -AFP

Recommended Stories