Mohamed Salah and Egypt lose Afcon opener against Nigeria

Leicester City striker Iheanacho scores brilliant winner for Super Eagles who dominate match in Cameroon

Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored the only goal of the game as Nigeria comfortably defeated Mohamed Salah's Egypt in Cameroon.

The Super Eagles dominated the Group D opener with Iheanacho's superb 30th minute finish proving the match-winner against a below-par Egypt who failed to shift out of first gear and could not get talisman forward Salah into the game.

Nigeria had sacked long-serving manager Gernot Rohr just four weeks before the tournament following an underwhelming World Cup qualification campaign with former player Augustine Eguavoen put in temporary charge.

And Eguavoen would have been pleased with what he saw from his team who would have won by more had they shown more composure in the Egypt penalty area.

The Pharaohs were unsettled by the loss of right-back Akram Tawfik to injury inside the first 10 minutes and he appeared in some distress as he was helped off the pitch.

His absence meant Nigeria found plenty of joy down that flank, with the electric Moses Simon profiting and a proving a thorn in the side for the Egyptians.

A cagey opening half controlled by Nigeria sprang to life on 26 minutes when winger Simon got behind the Egypt defence and fired into the side netting from a difficult angle.

Simon played a major role when the Super Eagles took the lead four minutes later at the 30,000-capacity Stade Roumde Adjia in the northwestern city of Garoua.

His cross was only partially cleared by Ahmed Hegazy and Nigerian Joseph Aribo nodded the ball into the path of Iheanacho who hammered a half-volley past goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy.

A far more energetic Nigerian side deserved to be in front against lethargic opponents with Salah starved of possession and Iheanacho almost set up a second goal before half-time, but his pass to Taiwo Awoniyi was just too strong and Elshenawy dashed off his line to gather the ball.

Nigeria hit the crossbar early in the second period when Awoniyi’s close-range header was turned on to the crossbar by El Shennawy, before Iheanacho fluffed a superb chance to double the advantage as the ball fell to him in acres of space in the box, but a poor first touch let him down.

Simon's speed continued to be a constant threat on the left, while Nigeria goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was a mere spectator with Egypt unable to mount pressure.

Liverpool attacker Salah finally got a sniff of goal after 70 minutes, but his close-range prod was blocked by Okoye's foot and cleared.

Next up for Nigeria will be Sudan on Saturday while Egypt take on Guinea-Bissau.

Updated: January 11th 2022, 6:43 PM