Paul Onuachu scores his first goal for Nigeria in 1:0 win over Egypt
Last Friday, Nigeria successfully closed out the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying campaign. They finished top of Group E and qualified for the biggest African national football competition.
On Tuesday, the Super Eagles were again in action, this time playing a friendly match with Egypt. Once again, the venue was the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
Nigerian head coach Gernot Rohr made a few changes to his starting line-up fielding Leon Balogun and Daniel Akpeyi instead of Kenneth Omeruo and Francis Uzoho. Ahmed Musa had to go back to Saudi Arabia. Odion Ighalo picked up an injury against Seychelles so he started on the bench. Here’s the full starting eleven:
Goal: Daniel Akpeyi
Defence: William Troost-Ekong, Jamilu Collins, Leon Balogun and Abdullahi Shehu
Midfield: John Ogu, Alex Iwobi and Wilfred Ndidi
Attack: Moses Simon, Henry Onyekuru and Paul Onuachu
Nine seconds after kick-off, Nigeria went 1:0 up. It’s surely one of their best starts to the game ever. And it was the new guy, Paul Onuachu who scored a great goal from the edge of the box. Only his second appearance for the Super Eagles and he is already on the score sheet.
However, an early goal meant Egypt would attack more. Nigeria played well and denied the Pharaohs in the first 20 minutes of the game, before being tested. First, it was Hassan Mahmoud who forced a good catch from Akpeyi after an indirect free kick.
Ten minutes later Shalabi Salah headed the ball wide of the goal by only a couple of inches. Leon Balogun received Nigeria’s only yellow card of the game in the 34th minute after a foul. Iwobi had a chance for the Eagles, but the Egyptian goalkeeper handled it. The score at halftime was 1:0 to the hosts.
At the break, Coach Rohr replaced his goalkeeper, putting Ikechukwu Ezenwa in goal instead of Akpeyi. John Ogu was injured in the 68th minute, forcing Rohr to replace him with Semi Ajayi.
Iwobi then had another chance to score in the second half, after a good cross from Onyekuru. But the Pharaohs defence blocked his shot. Iwobi was then substituted by Oghenekaro Etebo.
Super Eagles goalie Ezenwa pulled out a great double save with seven minutes to go in the game to prevent an equalizer. He saved a long distance shot from Mohamed before saving the rebound shot too.
Above the moon Onuachu was replaced by Ighalo in the 88th minute so the crowd could give him a standing ovation. Soon after, Rohr took Shehu and Simon out and put Effiong Ndifreke and Ikouwem Utin in so they could get a couple of minutes of play.
Fans at the stadium did get a scare in the dying seconds of the game when the Egyptians were almost through on goal. But Balogun was there to intercept the ball. Nigeria held on to win 1:0 and make it two out of two in four days.