The much-anticipated African Cup of Nations kicked off with a cracker as host Cameroon got a thrilling 2-1 win against Burkina Faso in Yaounde.
Two heavyweights in Nigeria and Egypt begin their journeys in the campaign as they go head-to-head in the opening group D game of the tournament.
Both teams are tipped as favourites to land the top two spots in the group and are among the overall favourites to win the title.
The Pharaohs will be led by talismanic attacker Mohamed Salah who is in top form and was recently shortlisted among the top three finalists for the FIFA The Best award.
The Liverpool attacker has a huge weight on his shoulders to lead his nation to a record-extending eighth title which would be their first since 2010 and the journey starts against the Super Eagles of Nigeria which won the tournament in 2013.
Nigeria which laid off Gernot Rohr last month and appointed veteran coach Augustine Eguavoen will be looking to win their fourth title after finishing in third place in the previous tournament.
The team are in high spirit going into the tournament and will look to kick off their campaign with a win against a tough Egypt side.
Both teams are giants of African football with a combined ten titles among them. They both have a strong squad going into the game despite Nigeria missing some prominent names and this explains why the bookmakers place them on almost equal chances of winning.
Sportsbet.io places Egypt as the very slight favourite to win the game at 2.60 while Nigeria is 2.92 to steal all three points against their rivals. The bookmakers also tag a draw as a very likely result placing it at 2.84.
Odds correct as at time of publication.
Nigeria, despite having an overall decent squad for the game, were hit with a heavy blow as they will be without in form striker Emmanuel Dennis as well as goal machine Victor Osimhen.
Watford attacker Emmanuel Dennis have been in blistering form in the English Premier League this season racking up eight goals and five assists but did not join up with the final Super Eagles squad and will remain with Watford.
Rangers’ Leon Balogun and Omonia Nicosia’s Shehu Abdullahi are also prominent names who withdrew from Augustine Eguavoen’s 28-man tournament squad as well as veteran goalscorer Odion Ighalo. Henry Onyekuru, Tyronne Ebuehi, Peter Olayinka, Semi Ajayi and Jamilu Collins were called up instead.
Egypt have less worries compared to their opponents but have also been hit by unfortunate circumstances as Carlos Queiroz will be without left back Mohamed Hamdi who is ruled out with a knee injury while Ibrahim Adel and Mohamed Abo-Gabal tested positive for Coronavirus.
Kickoff is at 5:00 PM Nigerian time on the 11th of January at the Roumde Adija Stadium in Garoua, Cameroon.
Although they came out 1-0 winners in their last friendly game, Nigeria have failed to register a win against the Egyptians in their last six competitive matches despite boasting a better head-to-head record with eight wins to Egypt’s five.
The Super Eagles last won a competitive game against Egypt in 1990. The West Africans however have a good short-term form as a positive having lost just one of their last six games.
Egypt on the other hand are in one of their best forms under coach Carlos Queiroz as they breezed into the next round of the World Cup qualifiers unbeaten in their group.
However, Egypt lost their last two games in the Arab cup but will be looking to improve on that with a stronger squad for the AFCON tournament.
The match promises a cracker as a number of big names such as Mohamed Salah, Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed El-Neny are likely to be on the pitch.
BETTING TIPS AND PREDICTION
Egypt vs Nigeria have always been a strong encounter and this should not be different. Both teams will come into the game knowing a win gives them the edge to topping their group and qualifying for the next round. It will be difficult to back either of the teams to win, but it is likelier that the match will see more than one goal (1.58).
Both teams are backed to score at a whopping 2.26 despite the option being a very possible outcome considering the level of attacking prowess of both teams.