Again, Nigeria fail to qualify for AFCON

Super Eagles

Nigeria will play no part in the forthcoming 2017 Africa Cup of Nations following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Egypt on Tuesday in Alexandria.

Ramadan Sobhi’s strike in the 65th minute broke the hearts of the West Africans while sending the Pharaohs to their first AFCON tourney in seven years.

The Super Eagles, who failed to make it to the last edition hosted by Equatorial Guinea in 2015 after winning the 2013 edition in South Africa, will be absent from the biennial tournament for the third time in four editions.

Samson Siasia’s team faced a daunting task to beat seven-time African champions, Egypt, away from home after playing 1-1 in Kaduna three days ago.

The quest of the three-time champions became further difficult after Chad withdrew from the qualifiers on Sunday due to financial constraints.

This left Nigeria alongside Tanzania and Egypt in Group G jostling for just a single spot in Gabon.

In the absence of the stricken Carl Ikeme, Siasia opted for Daniel Akpeyi in goal while handing starts to Umar Aminu and Victor Moses ahead of Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon.

Egypt started with better possession during the early stages – Marwan Mohsen coming close as early as the fourth minute.

The host continued mounting the pressure with Ramadan sprinting down the Eagles’ left flank before finding Abdallah El Said who fires the ball inches wide of the post.

Nigeria began winning the midfield battle with the presence of hard-working Moses who provided lots of options for the visitors.

Then it was time for Watford striker, Odion Ighalo, who received a well tailored cross from the right but his shooting was wayward.

Both teams had even share of possession with the Nigerians displaying better exchanges while the Pharaohs threatened with more goal bound attempts.

In the second half, Elderson Echiejele was sent in for Stanley Amuzie to neutralise the threats of Mohamed Salah on the right.

After a series of dangerous counter attacks, the North Africans finally got a breakthrough 10 minutes after the break through Ramadan.

The 19-year-old fired a shot from the edge of the Nigerian box which was deflected in by two Eagles defenders to beat the helpless Akpeyi.

Arsenal teenager, Alex Iwobi, replaced Umar with just 18 minutes left to make his second competitive appearance for his country.

His introduction almost paid off with the former England youth international beating his marker before shooting off target.

West Ham winger Moses immediately came close, making a beautiful solo run before firing a long range effort which hit the wood work.

The win takes Egypt to 7 points from three games, five ahead of Nigeria and six more than Tanzania.