Kelechi Iheanacho Record Breaking Goal Secures Victory For Super Eagles Against Egypt In AFCON Opener

The Super Eagles of Nigeria began their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a historic victory over the Pharaohs of Egypt  on Tuesday night.

Leicester City man Kelechi Iheanacho made the difference for both side, as his only goal in the 30th minute, through an headed assist from Rangers man Joe Aribo ensured that Nigeria bagged all three points in a sensational encounter at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium in Douala.

Iheanacho was further named the Man of the Match, despite just playing for 80 minutes before he was substituted for Huesca's midfielder Kelechi Nwakali.

Expressing his delight after scoring his first competitive tournament goal in Super Eagles shirt, Iheanacho stated that the result and the award meant so much to him.

"I am happy to represent my country, I am happy to score and hopefully, this team can work together and achieve our aims, get to the final, and win the tournament"... Said the 25-year-old

“It’s a massive win for us. We prepared and worked so hard for this game and we are happy with the result. This is surely a good start for us and I hope it will help us in subsequent games.

“We were not scared of the Egyptians. We studied them very well and it showed our performance. This is a good start for us and Nigerians can be sure we will do our best in this competition.

Following the disappointment in the late changes of the Super Eagles 28-man squad list for the tournament, which saw Napoli forward Victor Osimhen who is the top-scorer in the qualifiers, in-form Watford top-scorer Emmanuel Dennis, Genk's Paul Onuachu who has scored league 12 goals this season, and Al-Shabab's Odion Ighalo who was 2019 AFCON top-scorer all dropped from Super Eagles squad for various reasons, there's was a huge doubt if the team could be strong going forward in Cameroon.

Kelechi Iheanacho alongside Union Berlin forward Taiwo Awoniyi, and Villarreal's Samuel Chukwueze were shouldered with the responsibility of leading the attack for the team, and they didn't disappoint in the first game.

Infact, Iheanacho and Awoniyi showed promise of a budding relationship, combining well with Chukwueze from the right and Moses Simon from the left dominating the game, before Nigeria's coach Austin Eguavoen sent on Umar Sadiq for his debut in place of Awoniyi as Chidera Ejuke also replaced Chukwueze in a double change in the 72nd minute.

With the victory, Nigeria broke Egypt’s unbeaten record, as the Pharaohs were unbeaten in their last 16 group matches at the AFCON. Egypt last lost a group stage game in 2004 when they lost 2-1 to Algeria.

Iheanacho will be aiming to add to his goal tally when the Super Eagles face Sudan in their next group D match on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

A win for Nigeria will see them secure qualification to the round-of-16.

Super Eagles interim boss Eguavoen who just took charge of the team weeks ago said to news men after the game said;  

"The same set of players, every coach have their style, philosophy and leadership. I told the players to see me as their brother and father, my assistant I called them my colleagues.

"We have a path towards the same direction, we have the privilege to serve the country and we must always give our best."

“Egypt is a well-respected team; we respect them, but we’ve players who should be respected too.

Strategy: “We tried to cut Salah off the ball, and we tried to keep the ball.

“We will approach every game like a final” 

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