Sunday Oliseh hails ‘one of Nigeria’s best performances in years’
In a tournament thus far characterised by unconvincing displays, much-depleted Nigeria's dynamic 1-0 win against full-strength, record seven-time champions Egypt has caught the eye at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Ajax and Borussia Dortmund midfield legend Sunday Oliseh, a teammate of Nigeria's stand-in coach Austin Eguavoen when a Super Eagles dream team dazzled at the USA 1994 World Cup, hailed the performance against Egypt as “one of the best in years”.
Nigeria were hit by withdrawals over club issues of Saudi-based striker Odion Ighalo, Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis and Napoli striker Victor Osimhen. Defenders Leon Balogun and Abdullahi Shehu did not make the Nations Cup due to injury.
German coach Gernot Rohr was fired in December, and Nigeria Football Federation technical director Eguavoen was installed as caretaker coach for the Afcon even though Portuguese Jose Peseiro has been appointed to take charge after Cameroon 2021.
Egypt — including legendary goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy; Mohamed Elneny, Trézéguet and Hamdi Fathi in midfield; and Liverpool goal ace Mohamed Salah upfront — were notably outplayed by Nigeria in the Group D match at Stade Omnisport de Garoua.
Leicester City striker Kelechi Ịheanachọ scored the 30th-minute winner, though Oliseh singled out Nantes winger Moses Simon as his star performer.
Technically,tactically, physically, mentally & whatever positive ...ly you can think of, Eguavoen's led super Eagles,i feel, dominated Egypt & is, the best S.E performance in recent years. At this rate,we can be extremely optimistic my people.Moses Simon player of the match? pic.twitter.com/jelMu5JAkF— Sunday Oliseh (@SundayOOliseh) January 11, 2022
“Technically, tactically, physically, mentally and whatever positively you can think of, Eguavoen's Super Eagles I feel dominated Egypt,” Oliseh tweeted.
“The best performance in recent years. At this rate we can be extremely optimistic my people. Moses Simon player of the match?”
Hosts Egypt were shocked 1-0 in the last-16 by Bafana Bafana at the 2019 Nations Cup. Eguavoen dismissed suggestions the Pharaohs — coached by ex-SA, Real Madrid and Portugal boss Carlos Queiroz — are any soft touch.
“Egypt is not a weak side at all — it's a respected side coached by one of the top coaches in the world. And then one of the best players in the world [Salah] is in that team — so you cannot say it's a weak side,” he said after the win.
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“It's a very strong wide. We also worked so hard day in, day out, tactically and physically, and gave the boys so much confidence.
“Always respect your opponents but don't be scared. Respect your opponents and play your game — feel free to enjoy yourself. That was the game plan.”
Sudan and Guinea-Bissau drew Tuesday's late Group D game 0-0. Nigeria meet Sudan, and Egypt play Guinea-Bissau, on Saturday.
2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday:
(All SA times)
Tunisia v Mali (Stade Municipal de Limbe, 3pm)
Mauritania v Gambia (Stade Municipal de Limbe, 6pm)
Equatorial Guinea v Ivory Coast (Stade Omnisport de Douala, 9pm)