One of the most anticipated fixtures of the African Cup of Nations 2021 is upon us! It is a clash between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Pharaohs of Egypt. This rivalry has been on for 52 YEARS! Yes, you read that right.
Both teams first met back in 1960 in a friendly match which ended 2-1 in favour of the Super Eagles. Nigeria enters this tournament with hopes of getting a fourth AFCON trophy while Egypt looks to increase their tally to eight.
A lot has been said on how the Egyptian team would piggyback on Mohammed Salah all the way to the final but this would be the greatest undoing for the Pharaohs and the Super Eagles would be the first team to give them a reality check.
Date, kick-off time and venue
Nigeria vs Egypt is scheduled for a 4pm GMT kick-off on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.
The match will take place at the Stade Omnisport de Garoua in Garoua, northern Cameroon.
Super Eagles vs Pharaohs – records
Egypt swept the stakes at the first two editions of Africa’s flagship football competition, in 1957 and 1959, and then won on home soil in 1986 and in Burkina Faso 12 years later, before a hat-trick of consecutive titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Nigeria soared to glory on home soil in 1980, won in Tunisia in 1994 and overturned bookmakers’ predictions to triumph in South Africa nine years ago.
In all other confrontations at the Africa Cup of Nations, the Eagles have had the upper hand.
On their march to victory in 1980, the Eagles sailed past the Pharaohs 1-0 in a group phase clash in Ibadan, and four years later, following a pulsating 2-2 draw in a semi-final match in Bouake (Cote d’Ivoire), Nigeria won on penalties to reach the final against Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions.
In 1990, a lone goal by Rashidi Yekini consigned the Pharaohs to defeat in a group phase match in Algiers, and in 1994, both teams battled to a scoreless draw at the Stade Chadli Zouiten in Tunis.
The star man for the Pharaohs, and the star man for the whole tournament. Liverpool’s in-form forward is heads and shoulders above the others at the top of the Premier League scoring charts with 16 strikes, and Egypt has every chance of winning AFCON with this man in their side.
Even if Salah is not on top form, his presence will strike fear into opponents and they will be focused on shackling him in most games. Salah has 45 goals from 74 caps and will be looking to make strides towards more of his country’s record books.
How Nigeria can cage Salah
Unlike his club side, the Pharaohs do not boast of assist gurus like Trent Alexander Arnold. So Salah would have to drop deep a lot to get the ball. Now, this is where Leicester City man, Wilfred Ndidi would come into play.
Ndidi would be charged with the responsibility of breaking down plays from the middle of the park, what better way to do that than to hold the pacey Liverpool forward hostage.
Some pundits might opine that focusing so much on Salah would make Nigeria vulnerable to attacks from other players like Stuttgart’s Omar Marmoush. However, Augustine Eguavoen would have pacy wingers like Ola Aina to patrol the left-wing.
We would be entertained by a midfield battle between Mohamed Elneny and Wilfred Ndidi. It would be interesting to see who wins the midfield because that might influence the outcome of the game.
The game is a tough one to call with bookmakers in favour of Egypt. But we might see a 2-1 victory in favour of the Super Eagles.