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VIDEO: Egypt on verge of AFCON return with 1-0 win over Nigeria
The Super Eagles will miss the Africa Cup of Nations tournament for the second time in a row after losing 1-0 in Alexandria.
Going into the game, Nigeria and the Pharaohs knew that anything other than a loss would effectively secure their place in next year’s AFCON, barring a shock result from Tanzania.
Egypt XI: Shennawy; Gaber, Rabia, Hegazy, Tolba, Ibrahim Salah, Elneny, Abdallah El-Said, Ramadan Sobhy, Salah, Marwan Mohsen.
Subs: Amr Gamal, Ayman Hefny, Hazem Emam, Mohamed El-Shenawy, Ahmed Dewidar, Hossam Ghaly, Mahmoud Hassan ‘Trezeguet’.
Nigeria XI: Akpeyi; Shehu, Amuzie, Ambrose, Oboabona, John Obi Mikel, Etebo, Aminu, Musa, Victor Moses, Ighalo.
Subs: Echiejile, Iheanacho, Azubuike, Simon, Ezenwa, Onazi, Iwobi.
The home side enjoyed a strong start, thanks to the speed of Mohamed Salah in his runs behind the Nigerian backline, and early on his corner found towering defender Ahmed Hegazy, however his header went just wide of the near post.
Soon after, stand in captain Abdallah El-Said almost opened the scoring after his effort went just wide of the post after he was played in by Ramadan Sobhy.
Although Nigeria had slightly more possession, Egypt continued to create the best chances, and the deadlock was almost broken late in the first half through the unlikely source of Ibrahim Salah as his curled shot was parried away by inexperienced goalkeeper Akpeyi.
Akpeyi came to the rescue again moments later as Rabia’s header almost deceived him, however he reacted well to keep it out.
In the opening moments of the second half, Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny found the ball at his feet on the edge of the box, in a similar position to where he scored from against Barcelona, however this time it went over the bar.
Although it was Nigeria who had the onus to win the game, they played a more and more defensive line over the course of the second half, and eventually Egypt’s pressure would pay after Ramadan Sobhy’s deflected effort got the better of Akpeyi, making it 1-0 to the Pharaohs.
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) March 29, 2016
It almost became 2-0 when Abdallah El Said was unlucky to see his shot fly over the bar.
Nigeria couldn’t have come closer to levelling things when West Ham winger Victor Moses shot with his weaker left foot and hit the inside of the post, beating Shennawy however the ball flew across the face of goal and past the other post before going out for a goal kick.
The Super Eagles started to pile on the pressure, as they needed a late goal to have any hope of playing at next years AFCON, and they almost found their way in with a dangerous free kick in a wide area, however Hegazy cleared well. The late pressure wouldn’t pay for Nigeria and after a strong defensive performance, Egypt would close the game out and win 1-0.
The result means that Nigeria have no chance of playing at the 2017 AFCON in Gabon, due to their draw with Tanzania earlier in the qualification process. Tanzania still have a remote chance of qualifying, however they will need to beat Egypt and Nigeria while overcoming a goal difference swing of seven.
This situation arose when Chad pulled out of the qualification process due to a lack of funds, and so a place in the table was removed and as a result, one of the qualification berths was removed. There was a chance of both teams progressing to the tournament at one point, however this ended all hope of that.
The win puts Egypt on the verge of playing in the AFCON for the first time since 2010, when they won the tournament for the third time in a row.
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_MENA) March 29, 2016