Two African powerhouses in Nigeria and Egypt will start their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament with a tie against each other on Tuesday, January 11.
When the Super Eagles and the Pharaoh enter the fray at Estadio Roumde Adjia, in Group D, the toughest task will be for Nigeria to contain the latter’s, Mohamed Salah.
Salah is in red-hot form, and he is the current leading goal-scorer of the English Premier League with 16 goals and will be hoping to emulate such performance at the international level.
The Liverpool star has also just been named on the final three-man shortlist for the FIFA Best Men’s Player of the Year Award alongside PSG’s Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, another extra motivation for him ahead of the AFCON.
The above means that William Troost Ekong of Watford and Sheyi Ajayi of West Bromwich Albion and whoever will be selected to start in Nigeria’s defence will have their work cut out to stop the most in-form forward at the AFCON.
Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet, who also plies his trade in the EPL with Aston Villa is another player who could cause the West Africans problems at the back.
The absence of forwards Emmanuel Dennis, Odion Ighalo and Victor Osimhen could also be another challenge for the Super Eagles.
However, the availability of Leicester City duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi, Samuel Chukwueze of Villarreal, Alex Iwobi of Everton will be key for Nigeria.
The last time the two sides met in a competitive game was in March 2016 during the 2017 AFCON qualifiers, and Egypt edged Nigeria 1-0.
Egypt is the most successful country at the AFCON, winning it a record seven times, and will be looking for their eighth crown. They last won it in 2010.
On the other hand, interim head coach Augustine Eguavoen’s team are searching for their fourth having won it thrice already with their last coming in 2013.
In the other fixture of Group D, Guinea will tussle it out with Malawi also at Estadio Roumde Adjia.