Kelechi Iheanacho scored a goal in Egypt’s 1-0 loss to Nigeria in the first match of the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday, as Mohamed Salah received a penalty control.
Riyad Mahrez also had a tough day as he and his Algerian team-mates missed several scoring chances in a surprising 0-0 draw with Minoan Sierra Leone, their first in 26 years big game.
As early as day 3 of the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon, the results put some pre-match predictions on the back burner. If there’s one team to watch, it’s Algeria, unbeaten in 40 straight games since 2018. If there’s a player worth watching, it’s Liverpool’s Salah, the Premier League’s top scorer who claims to be the best in the world right now.
It might be time to reconsider.
It’s still early days for the tournament, though. The top two teams in each group will automatically advance to the knockout stage, and there is also the best part of the game.
In the final game of the day, Pele wasted a penalty for Guinea-Bissau in a 0-0 draw with Sudan. Pele, whose full name is Judilson Mamadou Toncarra Gomez, is a midfielder for the French club Monaco.
Head coach Djamel Belmadi has grown increasingly angry on the sidelines as Algeria missed out on their Group E opener in Douala. The 2019 Africa Cup-winning coach fell to his knees and slammed his hands to the ground when Algeria gave up one last chance in the final act of stoppage time.
Sierra Leone participates in the African Cup of Nations for the first time since 1996. But Algeria could not get past Sierra Leone goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara, who celebrated the result as if it were a tournament victory. The Sierra Leone player sprinted from the bench to the field at the end to join his celebration.
In just one day, a 22-year-old goalkeeper for Sierra Leone’s Freetown East Lions beat Manchester City’s Mahrez and other powerful forwards in Algeria.
Algeria has countless vacancies. Yassin Brahimi scored twice in a row for Kamara at the start of the second half. Kamara fell to the ground after Algerian substitute Sofiane Bendebka made another save in the 67th minute, unable to score.
Mahrez was blocked in the final 10 minutes when Kamara made a superb low fingertip shot into the bottom corner.
Algeria were besieging Sierra Leone for much of the second half, but Bermadi was frustrated when another substitute striker, Baghdad Bunejah, headed feebly into Kamara’s arms for a final error. Erupted.
Nigeria were supposed to be a team in crisis after dismissing their coach, Gnot Rohr, last month and temporarily installing Augustin Eguaven as his replacement. Nigeria are also without Napoli’s top striker Victor Osmeen and two other key strikers in the game.
Iheanacho, who has been on the bench for Leicester in recent months, has taken his chance to start Group D with an early meeting between the two tournament heavyweights against Egypt. Starter. He controlled a header pass to him, and with every move, a quick shot took Nigeria’s winning goal into the top right corner in the 30th minute.
Salah provided Egypt with a real chance late in the game, but Nigeria goalkeeper Maduka Okoye stepped forward and blocked Salah’s shot with his left leg.
Eguavin said the game plan was relatively simple: “Try to keep Salah off the ball and play high pressure football at the other end.”
Another Group D match between Guinea-Bissau and Sudan ended in a frenzy in the final 10 minutes.
Sudan goalkeeper Ali Abu Eshlein charged up to challenge Steve Ambree, but the pair collided and ended up scoring a penalty. Eshrein had a strong argument that he played, but Senegalese referee Issa Sy did not use VAR to check his decision.
Guinea-Bissau’s Pele’s penalty was saved by Eshlein in the 82nd minute, and Piquetti followed up and hit the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Eshrein rushed out again, tackling a cross and his defenders had to clear a shot to save him.
Nigeria 1-0 Egypt
Sudan 0-0 Guinea Bissau
Algeria 0-0 Sierra Leone