Nigeria walk tight rope, as Pharaohs prove too tough for Eagles

EteboNigeria 1 Egypt 1
Unless a miracle happens in Cairo on Tuesday, Nigeria will miss another African Nations Cup championship after failing to qualify for the 2015 edition of the competition hosted by Equatorial Guinea. The Super Eagles were expected to beat Egypt yesterday in Kaduna to resuscitate their chances of qualifying for Gabon 2017, but the Nigerians could only hold the Pharaohs to a 1-1 draw.

Yesterday’s result means that Egypt are still on top of Group G on seven points, two more than Nigeria, who are on five points. The Pharaohs are on a plus seven goals difference, while Nigeria’s goals difference is plus two.

To have any chance of making next year’s African Nations Cup in Gabon, Nigeria must beat Egypt in Alexandria on Tuesday and win the remaining two games against Cha and Tanzania.

If the Eagles lost to Egypt on Tuesday and Tanzania beat Chad same day, Nigeria will fall to the third position, while Egypt would have sealed their passage to Gabon 2017, as only the group winner qualifies automatically for the competition.

Nigeria started yesterday’s game against the Pharaohs like a team with a mission to grab the three points. But the more tactically aware Egyptians kept them at bay through a well-oiled midfield play that saw them double-teaming any Nigerian with the ball. There was always the feeling that the Egyptians could breach Nigeria’s defence if they attacked the Eagles, with the pairing of Efe Ambrose and Godfrey Oboabona in the heart of the backline always suspect whenever the Pharaohs got close to Carl Ikeme’s goal area.

Nigeria bossed the early minutes of the game, but Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo could not make the dominance count. Egypt goalkeeper, Ahmed El-Shennawy, was called to duty in the 15th minute when he saved Musa’s dangerous cross from the right wing. But the Pharaohs almost took the lead three minutes later, but Koka’s shot was saved by Ikeme. The first half ended goalless.

The pace of the game picked up in the second half with Nigeria searching for the opener, which finally came in the 60th minute through Oghenekaro Etebo, who bundled the rebound of a delightful Iheanacho shot into the net.

Victor Moses, who replaced Musa in the second half, should have made it two in the 84th minute after rounding El-Shennawy, but his shot was cleared off the line by Hamada Tolba.

With the regulation time ended, the referee signaled for three minutes of stoppage time. And that was all the time Egypt needed to get the goal that put the Eagles on a tight rope.

Ambrose and Oboabona were caught ball watching when Ramadan Sobhy slotted a delightful through-ball into Mohamed Salah, who made no mistake from 12 yards.

It would have been worse for Nigeria in the third minute of stoppage time, but the referee saved the Eagles’ blushes when he signaled the end of the game with Salah running with the ball unchallenged towards Ikeme’s goal.

The Guardian recalls that Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2012 edition of the Nations Cup when they allowed Guinea to cancel their lead with three minutes to the end of their final qualify in Abuja. Again, Egypt got their equalizer with three minutes to go in Kaduna yesterday. In both games, Samson Siasia was the coach of the Super Eagles.



6 Comments
  • Aliyu B B

    Nigeria lost the chance to Congo right from de day Oliseh was made in charge

  • amador kester

    In other words during the upcoming return leg in egypt nigerian fans might possibly be crying ” pharaoh let my people go !?” And hoping or wondering if they can cross the red sea without a technically coached magic wand but yes, miracles are also highly possible even if technicality fails so lets leave all options open without prejudicial pessimism.. I wonder too however, if this struggling economy can shoulder such resplendently expensive, diversionary pharonic indulgence as ceaseless sports extravaganzas and fiestas. Why not privatize the national stadium to start with?

  • akeebaba

    THERE IS NO POINT IN GOING FOR THE RETURN LEG, IT JUST AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY, EVEN IF EAGLES BEAT EGYPT NEXT WEEK TUESDAY, EAGLES CAN NOT BEAT CHAD AND TANZANI, SO THE WASTE OF OXYGEN?
    NIGERIA IS ONLY GOOD IN UNDER AGE, USING ?OVER AGE PLAYERS.

  • Osaigbovo Maxwell

    in football is every thing possible i saw a complete new super eagles in kaduna ,if they could learn from their mistakes ,they might be able to win ,they quality of our players is good enough ,siasia should make little amendment ,our defenders were ok theyneed more concentration ,attckers try score more goals

  • Caleb Wole

    Personally, I believe we should look for one of the best foreign coaches in the world who is ready for the job and hire him. I believe they understand the game better. Or maybe I should ask why it took us so long to qualify for the world cup if we believed indigenous coaches are better for us??? Seriously speaking, we need one as soon as possible (ASAP)- I mean now!

  • Caleb Wole

    I predict it is going to be in favor of Nigeria-Nigeria 2 Egypt 1. So shall it be IJN…Amen!

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