LIVE: Nigeria v Egypt | AFCON 2021

18:00 Cairo Local Time | 11:00 ET Canada-USA

Stade Roumde Adjia

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EGYPT take on Nigeria in a mouth-watering first Africa Cup of Nations clash with Mohamed Salah set to feature for the Pharaohs.

This will be the ninth encounter between Nigeria and Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations – only three fixtures have been played more often in the history of the tournament (Cameroon-Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire-Egypt, and Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana – all 10 times). Nigeria holds the upper hand with three wins to Egypt’s two, although their last encounter in 2010 went to the Pharaohs (3-1 in the group phase).

Nigeria are making their 19th appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations. They have reached the semi-finals in 14 of their last 16 AFCON participation, winning the tournament on three occasions.

This is Egypt’s 25th appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, a record in the history of the tournament. They have won it seven times, more than any other side. However, they have won none of the last five AFCON tournaments after winning each of the previous three (2006, 2008, 2010).

Egypt are unbeaten in each of their last 16 group matches at the Africa Cup of Nations (W12 D4). Their last defeat in the group phase dates back to the 2004 tournament (1-2 v Algeria).

Since his debut in the competition in 2017, Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 60% of Egypt’s goals in the Africa Cup of Nations (4 goals + 2 assists, out of a team total of 10 goals)

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The Pharaohs will be missing in-form midfielder Amr El Sulaya who hasn’t fully recovered from a calf injury.

Nigeria, however, are missing several key players. Napoli striker Victor Osimhen is still nursing a facial injury and he had also tested positive for COVID-19, while Emmanuel Dennis and Odion Ighalo were also ruled out of the tournament.

English Premier League side Watford and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Shabab refused to release Dennis and Ighalo respectively, claiming that Nigeria had missed a deadline to call them up.

That leaves Nigeria’s interim coach Augustine Eguavoen, who took over following the sacking of German Gernot Rohr, without much-needed firepower against Egypt.

“First game is very crucial to any team, it will give you a lot of encouragement, going into the tournament proper. I will say a little bit but I’m more relaxed now than two weeks or a week ago,” Eguavoen was quoted as saying by Nigerian media.

Egypt are also aware of the importance of grabbing an opening win as they aim to atone for an embarrassing campaign on home soil in 2019, which saw them bow out at the last 16 after losing to South Africa.

“Our path is not easy but we will fight to return home with the trophy. Stand by us,” Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, who shoulders Egypt’s hopes of winning their first Nations Cup title since 2010, said in a Twitter message to fans.

“We are not favourite candidates to win the title of the Africa Cup, but we will do our best to return home with the trophy,” Salah said in the pre-Nigeria press conference on Monday.

“I am one of 11 players and we will do our best to win the Nigeria game and the tournament title,” the 29-year-old added.

Egypt defeated Nigeria in their last competitive game 1-0 in a Nations Cup qualifier in March 2016. They also met in a friendly in March 2019, in which Nigeria won 1-0.

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LIVE: Nigeria v Egypt | AFCON 2021

18:00 Cairo Local Time | 11:00 ET Canada-USA

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