Group C (Egypt, Nigeria, Mozambique, Benin) opened up on day three of the African Nations 2010 and two of the strongest teams in the competition began the day as Egypt played Nigeria.
Egypt went into this match as the slight outsiders despite having won the last two African Nation cups. The champions started brightly with the speedy Mohamed Zidan frightening the Nigerian defenders, but it was Nigeria who opened the scoring on twelve minutes with their first real attack. Obasi picked up the ball out wide on the right and followed it into the penalty area, he then cut inside of the defender and drove a left-footed shot past the frustrated Egyptian goalkeeper El-Hadary who managed to get his fingertips to the ball but was powerless to stop the goal.
Nigeria came close to extending their lead on twenty minutes when a bobbled cross fell to Uche in the penalty area, the striker couldn’t control the shot through and blasted it over the bar. Egypt also looked lively in this open game and Zidan came close to equalizing moments later when he worked his way through the Nigerian defenders with some neat ball skill before driving his shot wide of the goal.
On 34 minutes Uche missed a vital opportunity to make it 2-0 after firing wide from fifteen yards and seconds later Egypt had the ball in the back of the net. As Nigeria settled themselves the Egyptians acted quickly and skipper Hassan played a cutting 40 yard pass to Emad Moteab who broke the Nigerian offside trap to give chase, Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama came out to try to collect but Moteab got there first, flicked the ball past the ‘keeper and then converted into an empty net to make it 1-1 and give them the goal they deserved.
The game continued to flow back and forth as both sides pushed forward and peppered the goals, and with half-time called this game was looking impossible to call.
The second half began just as brightly as the first with the Egyptian goalkeeper forced into action during the first sixty-seconds as he dived onto a driven cross. Egypt’s first chance of the half came after some neat play between the fiery Zidan and wide player Fathi, these two linked up well before Fathi drove his shot across the goal and wide.
Zidan was back in action moments later for Egypt with some neat trickery as he held the ball up before laying it off for the encroaching Hassan, the captain drilled a first time shot from 25 yards and smashed Egypt into a 2-1 lead after the strike took a wicked deflection off Taiwo and flew past the helpless Enyeama.
Attack looked to be the best form of defense for Egypt who kept the pressure on Nigeria, and with thirty-minutes to go Moteab broke the offside trap again and found himself with an ideal one-on-one opportunity but his scooped shot ballooned over the bar. Moteab then drew a free-kick from which Zidan nearly made it 3-1, but his curling strike was pushed away for a corner.
On seventy-four minutes Taiwo stuck well from 30 yards but the Egyptian keeper got down well to save. The left-back also tried again from the same distance six minutes later as Nigeria struggled to break Egypt down but this time his shot was high and wide. Etuhu was another player to strike wide from distance for Nigeria but it was Egypt who scored the fourth goal of the game. With five minutes to go Kanu had his pocket-picked by Moawad in the Egyptian half, the defender then cut through a disjointed Nigerian defense and found Gedo with a neat pass, the substitute took a few touches before hitting a grass-cutter into the corner of the net to make it 3-1.
The champions look good value to retain the African Nations Cup after their big victory here against a strong Nigerian side. This win will surely see them through to the next round as they now look for results against the two lesser sides in Group C, Mozambique and Benin, who kicked off twenty minutes after this game finished. We also saw one of the strongest looking players in the competition here today as Mohamed Zidan – who plays his football in Germany for Borussia Dortmund – impressed with great speed and slick skills.