By Ben Efe
Once again, the Eagles fell short of expectations at the Nations Cup as they failed to hold out against Egypt in their group C opening match yesterday.
The Pharaohs roared past a Nigerian team that lacked the power to maintain their earlier lead.Chinedu Ogbuke-Obasi had put the Eagles ahead in 12 minutes after both sides struggled to have a foothold on the game. The Egyptians showed that they were determined to make a bright start to their campaign as they forced their way into the Eagles half. Mohammed Zidane forced two saves from Vincent Enyeama.
The Eagles defence, featuring Mohammed Yusuf and Taye Taiwo at the flanks, Joseph Yobo and Obinna Nwaneri at the centre appeared solid, but as the game progressed they seemed to lose strong character and that was the Eagles’ undoing.
The Nigerian bench were hopeful that the 4- 3-3 approach to the game was ideal. Ogbuke and Yakubu Aiyegbeni playing behind Uche Kalu. Ogbuke-Obasi turned out to be the only potent force up front as John Obi Mikel, Yusuf Ayinla and Dickson Ethuhu struggled to cope with the Egypt’s Faithi and Emad Moteeb in the middle.
Obasi-Ogbuke gave Nigerian some confidence when he picked up the ball on the right flank, just outside the penalty area, sped past Mohamed Fathallah, turning the full-back inside out and then unleashed a venomous drive that fizzed past Essan El Hadari.
Egypt fought back with all vigor and they were rewarded with the equaliser in the 31 minute after Uche had missed a chance to increase the tally. A fast counter-attack set loose Moteeb who raced down unchallenged and put the ball past on-rushing Enyeama.
After the break the Egyptians stepped up their game even as Mikel wasted scoring opportunities, while Yakubu was nowhere near the tick of action. Ahmed Hassan made it two forEgypt on the 53rd minute after Taiwo turned his back to the Egyptian’s shot, Enyeama watched with horror as the deflected ball slid into the net.
Coach Shaibu Amodu, hoping for some revival, brought on Obinna Nsofor for Uche, while Nwankwo Kanu came in for Mikel, but these changes had no effect on the game as the Pharaohs dominated the game.
Moteed rounded off the game for the Eagles after he robbed Kanu of ball. The Egyptian picked his spot and shot low past Enyeama in the 85th minute to confirm the prediction made by soccer pundits that Egypt would blow Nigeria away.