VIDEO: Nigeria hand Egypt their first defeat under Javier Aguirre
The Pharaohs’ boss Javier Aguirre has decided to leave a number of key players out of the March games, including Mohamed Salah, Ahmed Hegazi, Elmohamady, and many more.
Instead, a lot of inexperienced players were called-up to feature for Egypt in their final 2019 AFCON qualifier against Niger and the Nigeria friendly.
Zamalek’s goalkeeper Mahmoud Gennesh was handed his international debut alongside his club-teammate Mahmoud Alaa and Ahmed Fetouh, and El-Dakhelya winger Islam Gaber.
Omar Gaber and Baher Elmohamady partnered Alaa and Fetouh in the defence, while Islam Gaber and Mahmoud Trezeguet started on the wings.
Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny captained the Pharaohs from the middle of the park, and Tarek Hamed and Mostafa Mohamed, who won his first cap against Niger, completed a three-man defence, which played behind the lone striker Salah Mohsen.
It took Nigeria only seven seconds to open the scoreline after a defensive blunder from Ahmed Fetouh which allowed Paul Onuachu to drive into the box, before firing into the top corner.
Egypt tried to get back into the game and managed to control the game in the following 20 minutes, but without creating any clear-cut chances as the lack of chemistry between Mohamed and Mohsen made it difficult for them to break Nigeria’s defence.
In the 30th minute, Alex Iwobi had the chance to double his side’s lead after exploiting on Mahmoud Alaa’s defensive error, but his shot was weak and was saved easily by Gennesh.
The hosts dominated the remaining minutes of first-half, but couldn’t score another goal, and 1-0 was the scoreline of the first 45 minutes.
Amr Warda replaced Salah Mohsen between the break, and Mostafa Mohamed was moved up to the striker position.
Aguirre was forced to make another substitution after two minutes into the second-half, as Mahmoud Alaa suffered a facial injury and was replaced by Ahmed Ayman Mansour.
Unlike the first-half, Egypt had more of the ball possession, but still struggled to create any real chances, and against the run of play, Iwobi nearly made it 2-0 after a solo effort from Henry Onyekuru, however, the Arsenal winger’s shot was blocked by Tarek Hamed.
Kouka and Mohamed Hany was brought in for Mostafa Mohamed and Omar Gaber, and it almost worked out instantly after the Olympiakos forward was sent through on goal, but he couldn’t find the target.
In the 83rd minute, Islam Gaber came so close to equalising the score when his long-range effort hit Ikechukwu Ezenwa’s crossbar, before the rebound by Kouka was saved by the goalkeeper.
Egypt enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the last 15 minutes and created a number of chances, but failed to make them count, and eventually, Nigeria held on for a deserved 1-0 victory.
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