Day 3 - Egypt’s bid to win a third successive CAF Africa Cup of Nations title got off to the perfect start with a classy demolition of Nigeria, but for Group C’s other contenders, Benin and Mozambique, there was to be no end to their tournament droughts.
Egypt quickly managed to put the dramatic disappointment of their FIFA World Cup elimination behind them once in Angola, and they set about the business of defending their continental crown in style. They had to come from behind, but their 3-1 win over Nigeria sent out a strong message of intent to the pretenders to their crown.
For their parts, Benin and Mozambique were both seeking their first-ever victory at the Nations Cup, but their entertaining match ended 2-2 thanks to some goalkeeping foibles on both sides.
Egypt 3-1 Nigeria (Moteab 34’, Hassan 54’, Nagui 87’; Obasi 12’)
Mozambique 2-2 Benin (Omotoyossi 14' pen., Dario Khan 20' o.g.; Miro 29', Goncalves Fumo 54’)
Goal of the day
Nigeria 1-0 Egypt, Chinedu Obasi (12’)
Though his goal ended up being mere consolation for the Super Eagles, Chinedu Obasi’s opener against the Egyptians was the stuff of pure magic and the pick of the day’s scoring efforts. With the two heavyweight teams still sizing each other up, the Hoffenheim youngster took the ball at pace down the right side, beat the defence with a cut inside and then smashed home his finish. Obasi had initially been left out of Nigeria’s CAN squad but was called up on deadline day, and under-the-microscope coach Shaibu Amodu is surely glad he did now.
A golden engine keeps on purring
At the age of 35 Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan has the energy of a man half his age on the pitch, and despite playing in his record-setting eighth Nations Cup tournament, he appears poised to continue building on his almost 170 caps. His value to the African champions was obvious in two plays against Nigeria. First, his perfectly weighted defence-splitting pass after 34 minutes set up Emad Moteab for Egypt’s first goal, and the second was his own screamer of a shot that went into the back of the net, albeit with the good fortune of deflecting in off the back of Taye Taiwo.
Goalkeeper caught out
The crowd in Benguela was no doubt somewhat more sympathetic to the cause of Mozambique, which like host nation Angola is a Portuguese-speaking country. And they witnessed a wild moment when the Mamba’s quick throw-in restarted play as the Benin goalkeeper Yoann Djidounou ambled back after coming out of his box to boot the ball into the supposed safety of the touchline. Genito’s throw went to Dominques, who squared it for Goncalves Fumo, and he had all the time in the world to score Mozambique’s equaliser some 10 minutes into the second half.
African icon enters the fray
Africa’s crowds love their superstars, as has already been witnessed by the reception in Angola for the likes of Didier Drogba and Kolo Toure. And when Nwankwo Kanu got up to come on as a late substitute for Nigeria in their game against Egypt there was an audible roar of approval from the Angolan crowd. Kanu was only on for some 10 minutes and was unable to impact the match or re-pay the reception he received.
Déjà vu for Amodu?
Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu has seen this all before. He qualified Nigeria for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but because the Super Eagles only got to the semi-finals of the Nations Cup tournament in Mali in the preceding months, he was given the sack. Back again at the helm of the Super Eagles, Amodu’s tenure has been the subject of much speculation because while Nigeria have qualified for South Africa 2010, they did not do it in a convincing fashion. His stony faced expression suggested he realises the pressure is heaped on his shoulders all over again after a slow start in Angola.
33 – The number of years since Egypt last beat Nigeria. They won 3-1 at home in 1977 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. Overall, the two sides have played 16 times with five wins for Egypt, six for Nigeria and five draws.
What they said
"We made it difficult for ourselves after we conceded two silly goals, but it was good to see how we bounced back. It would have been much better to get the three points though because our next two matches (against Egypt and Nigeria) will be very tough.” Mozambique captain Tico-Tico.
Cameroon - Gabon (13 Jan. 16:00 GMT)
Tunisia - Zambia (13 Jan. 18:30 GMT)
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