A late equaliser in the 91st minute from Mohammed Salah gave Egypt a point against Nigeria in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
It was a scrappy match with Nigeria taking the lead after 59 minutes when Warri Wolves striker Etebo Oghenekaro stabbed in from close range after Manchester City starlet Kelechi Iheanacho’s shot had rebounded off the upright.
The “Super Eagles” dominated the early exchanges in front of a packed crowd in sweltering heat in Kaduna, but sloppy passes and disjointed play meant they couldn’t deliver the killer blow against an Egyptian team that looked to be there for the taking.
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Despite starting with Watford hotshot Odion Ighalo, who has 14 goals in the Premier League this season, the Nigerian midfield, with Mikel Obi at the base, starved their strike force of service. Nigeria were indeed grateful to goalie Carl Ikeme, who pulled off two world class saves in the 17th and 54th minute, despite not having much to do for long spells in the game.
Iheanacho was very subdued – as a result of the poor service and not using the ball well on the few occasions he had it. He had one opportunity before halftime when he turned and struck the ball with his left foot, and it was turned round the post by Ahmed El-Shenawy in the Egyptian goal. Iheanacho was replaced in the 64th minute by Aminu Umar, who had little impact on proceedings either.
Another sub, West Ham’s Victor Moses, came on for Ahmed Musa of CSKA Moscow and livened things up for Nigeria, but it was not enough to get Nigeria to the promised land with a second goal that would have killed off the game.
As the fourth official signalled for three added minutes, a lapse in concentration on the left of Nigeria’s defence let in winger Salah, who had hinted of menace throughout the game.
Nigeria now have a mountain to climb to overturn Egypt at the top of Group G. They next meet in Alexandria on Tuesday, with the North Africans leading the group with seven points from three games to Nigeria’s five points. The group winners qualify for the tournament in Gabon next year alongside the two best runners-up.