By G9ija

Nigeria will look to claim the major scalp of perennial Africa Cup of Nations challengers Egypt when the teams meet in their opening Group D match at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua on Tuesday 11 January 2022, kick-off at 18:00 CAT.

Nigeria are three-time AFCON champions (most recently in 2013) and finished third in the last tournament in 2019. The Super Eagles come into this Nations Cup under something of a cloud after the surprise decision to axe long-time coach Gernot Rohr and replace him with interim Augustine Eguavoen, as well as the absence of key strikers Emmanuel Dennis and Victor Osimhen.

Nonetheless, the West African heavyweights have the quality and experience to challenge for the title in Cameroon, with Eguavoen determined to make the most of his time in charge (he will be replaced by new permanent appointment Jose Peseiro after the tournament).

“We have to face reality, nobody cares to hear excuses,” said Eguavoen. “We have to tell the players where we are now and where we want to be at the end of AFCON. The federation has a goal, the country has a goal, as players and individuals we also have goals.”

Egypt are the AFCON’s most successful nation, with a record seven titles to their name (the most recent in 2010). They were runners-up as recently as 2017, while their run as hosts in the last tournament in 2019 ended in disappointment with a round of 16 exit.

This time around the Pharaohs are hopeful that coach Carlos Queiroz can harness the undoubted quality at their disposal – including arguably the best player in the world this season in Mohamed Salah – as they chase an eighth continental crown.

In head-to-head stats, Nigeria and Egypt have met in 18 matches across all competitions since 1960, with the Super Eagles claiming eight wins compared to five for the Pharaohs, while five games have been drawn.

The teams last met in an international friendly in March 2019 in Asaba, with Nigeria claiming a 1-0 home win thanks to an early goal from Paul Onuachu.Ex-Senegal star Henri Camara believes seven-time champions Egypt is not a big threat to The Teranga Lions’ AFCON 2021 ambitions.

Camara said Senegal, who are chasing their debut AFCON title, would also confidently love to meet Egypt in the final stage qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.

They have been finalists twice in 2002 and 2019.

Senegal are in Group B while Egypt are in Group D and are on a collision course in the semifinal should they successfully progress through the latter two knockout phases as the top two finishers from their respective groups.

“At the present time, no team is a cause of concern to us other than Morocco and Algeria. I don’t see any team stronger than us,” Camara said on Kinfut.

“I’d prefer to play Egypt in the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers because they would be the easiest match for us. This current generation is better than Egypt.”

Meanwhile, Camara’s wish of meeting Egypt in the final FIFA World Cup qualifying round will be known on January 22 when the draws are made in Douala, Cameroon.