In a tournament thus far characterised by unconvincing displays, much-depleted Nigeria’s dynamic 1-0 win against full-strength, record seven-time champions Egypt has caught the eye at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Ajax and Borussia Dortmund midfield legend Sunday Oliseh, a teammate of Nigeria’s stand-in coach Austin Eguavoen when a Super Eagles dream team dazzled at the USA 1994 World Cup, hailed the performance against Egypt as “one of the best in years”.
Nigeria were hit by withdrawals over club issues of Saudi-based striker Odion Ighalo, Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis and Napoli striker Victor Osimhen. Defenders Leon Balogun and Abdullahi Shehu did not make the Nations Cup due to injury.
German coach Gernot Rohr was fired in December, and Nigeria Football Federation technical director Eguavoen was installed as caretaker coach for the Afcon even though Portuguese Jose Peseiro has been appointed to take charge after Cameroon 2021.
Egypt — including legendary goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy; Mohamed Elneny, Trézéguet and Hamdi Fathi in midfield; and Liverpool goal ace Mohamed Salah upfront — were notably outplayed by Nigeria in the Group D match at Stade Omnisport de Garoua.
Leicester City striker Kelechi Ịheanachọ scored the 30th-minute winner, though Oliseh singled out Nantes winger Moses Simon as his star performer.