The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Tuesday got off to a flying start at the 33rd African Cup of Nations as they defeated the Pharaohs of Egypt 1-0 in their Group D tie in Garoua.
Many were unanimous on the fact that the Super Eagles posted an all-round improved display compared to what obtained under erstwhile manager, Gernot Rohr. Some players ultimately fared better than others and the man of the match was a tight tussle between Moses Simon and Ola Aina.
This is PREMIUM TIMES’ player ratings for the Nigeria-Egypt clash
Maduka Okoye, 7/10: Keeping a clean sheet was key for the Watford man, though the Egyptians did not test him as much as his opposite number in the Egypt team.
His biggest moment in the game was making a crucial save from point-blank range after Salah outpaced the Super Eagles centre-backs in the 70th minute.
William Troost-Ekong, 7: Though a bit jittery occasionally, the captain led well from the back as he helped in caging Egyptian star man Mohamed Salah.
Kenneth Omeruo, 7/10: The Leganes defender obviously wanted to make the most of his starting role in the absence of Leon Balogun.
Though he made one or two forgivable errors, he helped a great deal to keep the Egyptian attack at bay.
Ola Aina, 8/10: The former Chelsea fullback was outstanding not just in his defensive duties but also going upfront; offering a lot of attacking support. He almost got an assist when Awoniyi nodded his cross that the Egyptian keeper saved.
Zaidu Sanusi, 7/10: Though the accuracy rate of his crosses could be better, Sanusi was sturdy in defence and he also made good forward runs.
Wilfred Ndidi, 8/10: The Leicester City midfielder functioned well as the Eagles’ engine room. He was terrific in midfield. He broke play brilliantly and passed the ball well as well.
Joe Aribo, 7/10: The Rangers FC man had the assist for Nigeria’s only goal. Though he was not flamboyant, his passes were timely, and he helped stabilise things in the middle of the park.
Kelechi Iheanacho, 7.5/10: Though he could have gotten one or two more goals to his name, the Leicester City forward delivered one of the best goals so far in Cameroon.
Senior man, as he is fondly called, made a series of positive runs upfront, and he formed a good partnership with former Golden Eaglet teammate, Awoniyi.
Samuel Chukwueze, 5/10: The 22-year-old was a shadow of his usual self, as he managed a below-average performance.
Moses Simon, 8.5/10: Just like the biblical Moses, the Nantes star waded and parted the Red Sea. He had a distinct hand in the only goal and contributed to the fall of the Pharaohs. While he did a lot of runs that troubled the Egyptian defence, Moses still needs to fine-tune his final balls.
Taiwo Awoniyi, 6/10: The Union Berlin star hustled well for a debut goal but was unlucky to fire blanks on his AFCON debut.
Semi Ajayi, 6/10: He quickly adjusted to the pressure from the Egyptians when he was introduced into the game. He put up an excellent performance and could get more chances to shine with Omeruo’s injury.
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Chidera Ejuke, 6/10: Brought in as a replacement for Chukwueze, Ejuke looked dangerous on the ball but he was selfish with the final ball; choosing to go for goal when passing to better-placed teammates was a more viable option
Sadiq Umar, 5/10: The Almeria man came on late in the game, and he had some good forward runs, but the Egyptian defenders dealt well with him.
Kelechi Nwakali, 5/10: Saw little ball action, though he laid on a thorough pass for Ejuke in the last action of the match.
Alex Iwobi, NA: Came on in the 90th minute.