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PREVIEW: Can Super Eagles humble the Pharaohs in AFCON opener?

PREVIEW: Can Super Eagles humble the Pharaohs in AFCON opener?
January 11
09:10 2022

When the Super Eagles lock horns with the Pharaohs at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium on Tuesday evening, fireworks will not be in scarce supply.

The two African heavyweights will be playing for more than just topping Group D of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). They will be playing for glory, bragging rights and a chance to enter the history books.

The Super Eagles will be seeking their fourth title, while the Pharaohs will be looking to end their 12-year wait for the continental crown following their 2010 triumph.

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Journey to qualification

Egypt enjoyed a sensational qualifying journey, finishing at the summit of their group to secure a smooth entry into the tournament.

The Pharaohs were one of eight sides to go unbeaten in the qualifiers, winning three and drawing three games to amass 12 points.

Egypt head into Tuesday’s game on the back of a fourth-place finish at the Arab Cup.

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Carlos Quieroz’s men will look to make up for their Arab Cup woes by going after the continental crown, and three points against Nigeria will be a dream start for the seven-time African champions.

Nigeria, on the other hand, is the fourth-most successful nation in the tournament, having won the AFCON title on three different occasions.

But it has been nine years since the Eagles last conquered the continent when they saw off Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final of the 2013 tournament.

The Eagles secured their place in this year’s edition of the tournament following an impressive qualifying run where they won four and drew two to pick up 14 points from six games.

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Augustine Eguavoen’s side heads into Tuesday’s game fresh off the back of a 2-0 win against Cotton Sports in a pre-AFCON friendly.

Squad power and depth

Eguavoen has a squad rich in depth and talent at his disposal for the campaign. The gaffer has the likes of William Troost-Ekong, Ola Aina, Leicester City duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi in his arsenal.

Taiwo Awoniyi, the 24-year-old who enjoyed an impressive season with Union Berlin, was also included in the roster.

It remains to be seen if the absence of Victor Osimhen, Oghenekaro Etebo, Paul Onuachu, and Leon Balogun will have any significant impact on the team.

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Egypt, on the other hand, called up 26 players for the continental tournament, including the English Premier League (EPL) trio of Trezeguet, Mohammed Elneny and Mohamed Salah.

The Liverpool forward currently tops the Pharaohs’ all-time goalscorers list with 43 strikes.

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Quieroz has also handed call-ups to Ahmed Sayed Zizo, Emam Ashour and Ramadan Sobhi.

Possible line-ups

Nigeria’s possible lineup: Maduka Okoye, Ola Aina, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Zaidu Sanusi, Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo, Chidera Ejuke, Ahmed Musa, Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho.

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Egypt’s possible lineup: Mohamed El Shenawy, Ahmed Hegazy, Mahmoud Hamdi, Ayman Ashraf, Abdalla El Said, Amr El Soleya, Mohamed Elneny, Omar Marmoush, Mohamed Salah, Mostafa Mohamed, Trezeguet.

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