The 30,000 capacity Roumde Adjia Sports Stadium situated at the port city of Garoua in the North Region of Cameroon will be the cynosure of all eyes on Tuesday when two of Afrca’s best football nations Egypt and Nigeria lock horns in Group D of the ongoing 2021 AFCON.
The pair have won the prestigious African cup of nations title ten times between them with the Pharaohs of Egypt leading the pack with seven whereas the Super Eagles have also amassed three.
Both countries have faced each other 19 times since their first encounter in a friendly game in 1962 and the North Africans boast of six wins, five draws and eight defeats while the Super Eagles have the upper hand with eight victories.
In relation to the African Cup of Nations, both teams have played each other nine times and this is the third time they are meeting in an opening Group game. Egypt won the first encounter in 1963 by six goals to three and the second clash 3-1 in the 2010 edition in Angola.
Head coach of the Super Eagles Augustine Eguaveon who was appointed prior to the tournament following the dismissal of Gernot Roht insists that there is no time for excuses as they have to go all out despite missing key players for the tournament such as Napoli star man Victor Osimhen, veteran Jude Odion Ighalo who was the top scorer in the last edition in Egypt as well as red hot Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis
“It’s over now, we have to face the truth, no one cares about excuses,” Eguaveon stated ahead of the clash with Egypt
“The only thing is to change the style of play because the personnel is not there as we expected
“We have to just alter the formation and how we approach the games as well.
“For those who take their places … you’ve been given an opportunity and I think you should take it.”
Despite missing three of his best attackers, Eguaveon will be banging his hopes on Leicester City striker Promise Kelechi Iheanacho who has been on top of his game in the EPL whereas skipper Ahmed Musa is still very deadly down the flanks.
The Pharaoh’s of Egypt who have been tipped as a tournament favorite will be going all out and manager Carlos Queiroz who is not new to African football having qualified South Africa to the 2022 world cup will have a pool of great talents to rely on.
Of course, the mercurial Mohamed Salah who is the biggest player in this tournament will be the main center of attraction in the Egyptian team alongside Mostafa Mohamed of Galatasary.
Certainly, the major department of the game to keep an eye on is the midfield where the likes of Mohamed Elneny battling Wilfried Ndidi for supremacy. The output of these two players in the middle of the pitch can determine the outcome of the game.
For Egyptian coach Carlos Queiroz, it is a great feeling to lock horns with the Super Eagles and playing against Nigeria now will put his team in shape.
“It’s a great pleasure to face Nigeria in the opening game. We want to face the strongest teams in the tournament.” Queiroz stated in the pre-match presser.
“Nigeria is a very strong team, but we have no objections. It’s always good to compete against the football giants. We have a lot of players competing among themselves for a starting berth, and that’s great because we came here to win seven games.”
“Our ambition is very simple. Win all the matches.” He added.
In any case, the game promises to be an exciting one with lots of fireworks and action. The side which remains clinical upfront, very fluid in midfield and resolute at the back will carry the day.