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U-23 AFCON: Niger hold defending champions Egypt to scoreless draw

Brave defending and physical play from Niger saw the Ménas claim a point off defending champions Egypt as Group B began play on Sunday at the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco. Egypt were the more dangerous team but the Pharaohs’ finishing was below standard against a Nigerien team who deserved something from the match. Egypt will clash with Mali in their next match on Wednesday and Niger face Gabon.

Led by captain and Pyramids FC star Ibrahim Adel, Egypt were favored to get off to a winning start but lacked rhythm due to the fierce efforts of the Nigerien team. The trend of slow starts continued in a first half that lacked clear opportunities with Egypt coming close in the 27th minute when Mahmoud Saber fired wide after a clearance fell kindly. Towering Niger defender Djibrilla Ibrahim had a free header towards the end of the half from a corner kick but sent his effort wide.

The frustration continued for the Pharaohs in the second half. Adel failed to find the target with an attempt in the 50th minute and striker Osama Faisal’s 68th minute header went off the post with Niger goalkeeper Naïm Van Attenhoven beat. Van Attenhoven did just enough to keep out Mostafa Saad’s curling shot in the 78th minute, tipping the effort off the crossbar to preserve a valuable point for the Nigerien team.

Highlights of the match are below.

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