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AFCON U-20: Determined Nigeria outlast Egypt to leave hosts in danger of early elimination

A moment of set piece excellence and inspired defending handed Nigeria an important 1-0 victory over hosts Egypt in Group A play at the 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations on Wednesday. Solomon Agbalaka’s header in the 71st minute was the difference for the Flying Eagles who are in excellent shape to advance to the quarterfinals ahead of their final Group A clash against last placed Mozambique. Egypt now have a difficult matchup against group leaders Senegal, one the Young Pharaohs need to win in order to have a chance to avoid elimination at the group stage.

It was an even match throughout with fine margins determining the winner in the end. Each team had few looks in the first half with Egypt’s Khalil Rafaat having an opportunity to put the hosts ahead in the 14th minute but sending his volley over the bar from twelve yards out. Nigeria’s best opportunity came when quick play down the left wing set up a cross from Agbalaka that was knocked down for Muhammad Aminu to attempt a toe poke effort that was collected after brief trouble by Egypt goalkeeper Mostafa Makhlouf.

After the hour mark the chances arrived in a wave. Nigeria keeper Chijioke Aniagboso came up with a couple of important saves by getting down to smother Belal Mazhar’s low effort in the 63rd minute before denying an open look for Rafaat three minutes later.

The Flying Eagles seized the lead in the 71st minute when a perfect hanging corner kick service from Aminu saw Agbalaka spring for a thundering header that was too much for Makhlouf to deal with. The hosts pushed furiously for a leveler but Nigeria and goalkeeper Aniagboso remained secure in dealing with desperate attacks from the Egyptians.

Highlights are below.


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