Another mouth-watering group opener clash on Tuesday is between two African heavyweights as Nigeria and Egypt lock horns at the Estadio Roumde Abdjia in Group D of the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations.
The two are not new to each other as their rivalry dates back to early 1960s, when Super Eagles of Nigeria secured a 2-1 friendly victoty in their first-ever encounter, and while the Super Eagles will seeking their fourth AFCON glory, the Pharaohs will be on the hunt for their eighth and to extend the continents recoord-champions.
Nigeria head into the tie as one of the most of successful nations on the continent, and with three Africa Cup of Nations titles to back up their quest, they are one side voted favourites to go all the way to the finals.
In 2013, Nigeria edged out stubborn Burkina Faso side 1-0 courtsey of Sunday Mba’s strike, since then they endured horrific run in the continental most coveted tournament, failing to qualify for consecutive two editions.
In 2014, the Super Eagles secured third place in Group A of qualifiers, finishing two points behind Congo in the final qualifying spot, before finishing as runners-up in Group G in 2017, five points behind group winners Egypt.
The Super Eagles then made up for their two-year absence in 2019, when they secured Bronze, in the losers final against Tunisia after suffering 2-1 defeat at the hands of defending champions Algeria in the semi-finals.
The three-time champions, who will be making their 19th AFCON debut this month, won all their qualifying matches and they finished at the summit of Group L to secure smooth Camroon entry ticket.
Nigeria head into Tuesday’s game unbeaten in all but one of their last six competitive games, winning four games and one draw to book spot in the playoffs of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers after finishing first in Group C.
Meanwhile, Egypt on the other hand, are currently the most decorated nation in Africa, conquering the continent on seven different occassions, with their last title win coming back in 2010, when they thrashed Ghana 1-0 in the final.
The Pharaohs have also failed to make an appearance in each of the three subsequent editions, failing short in the qualifying round on each occasion, before suffering a 2-1 deafeat at the hands of Cameroon in the 2017 final.
The Egyptian Pharaohs, who are making a record-extending 23rd AFCON appearance, have already secured their place in the World Cup qualifiers playoffs after a comfortable run in Group F.
Notable absentees in the Super Eagles squad include, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, who was the nation’s top scorer in the qualifiers with five goals, after the Napples goal poacher reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Nigerial will also miss the services of Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis and former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo, who were barred by their respective clubs that is Watford and Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab FC.
As for Egypt, fresh reports have it that multiple COVID-19 cases with trio of Mohamed Abogabal, Ibrahim Adel and coaching staff Essam El-Hadary testing positive for coronavirus.