By G9ija

After Egypt’s 1-0 loss to Nigeria at the start of their African Cup of Nations campaign in Cameroon, fans reacted with humour, sarcasm, and criticism.

The style of the loss added to the despair felt in the football-crazed country, as the Eagles outran and outsmarted the Pharaohs in practically every aspect and could have won by a larger margin if goalkeeper Mohammed El Shenawy had not made some fantastic saves.

The critically-acclaimed Mohamed Salah, Liverpool’s star striker, had minimal impact, barely touching the ball as the Nigerians marked him out of the game. Midway through the game, the left-footed, right-winger was moved to a centre-forward position, leaving him insufficient space to exploit his blistering pace.

Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese coach, was chastised for starting Aston Villa’s Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet in midfield so soon after he returned from an eight-month injury layoff.

In his post-match comments, Queiroz said: “Our first-half performance was very poor and that’s the truth. We were not there. There was no excuse for this failure and loss to Nigeria. We have two games left that are worth six points. We must get all of them.”

The coach’s problems with supporters and critics began minutes after the final whistle when a vociferous Egyptian fan addressed him from the stands about his starting lineup.

“We, too, know something about football,” the enraged fan said.

While being restrained by one of his assistants, the coach answered with a sarcastic invitation to the fan to take over coaching the squad.

The fan’s point of view was sent to home commentators. “Nothing new from the national team or Queiroz,” tweeted Hassan El Mestekawi, Egypt’s most well-known football commentator, late Tuesday. “We chased the ball and ran away from the ball. The Eagles were faster and stronger and our problem was team play as in modern football tactics.”

By comparison, El Mestekawi was gracious given what TV sports talk show host Ibrahim Fayeq had to say about Queiroz’s selection for the Nigeria match. On his late-night show, Fayeq said with a voice full of sarcasm:

“Mohammed El Shenawy [the goalkeeper] was the best player in the match because he was not told to play right-back or left-wing. God has been merciful to him! He played in the goal,” he said on his late-night programme.

Mohammed Heneidy, a popular comedian, had even more cutting sarcasm to share with his on-line admirers.

“A brilliant start!” He posted.

The Super Eagles enjoyed a pleasant game, controlling the rhythm the way they wanted, and the score could have been higher if it had not been for El-Shennawy’s overall display.

Many of these fans blamed Queiroz for playing several key players out of position, including Mohamed Salah, Mostafa Mohamed, and Trezeguet.

But, El-Shennawy himself believes the blame should be on everyone because it was a team game and all should be responsible.

“The result is disappointing, to the players, coaching staff, and to the fans,” El-Shennawy said. “During the first half we couldn’t rise to the occasion, but the second half saw some improvement as we wasted a few chances.

“We had a lot of respect for Nigeria, but that backfired on us, being too focused on defence was the reason we conceded the goal. We’ll focus on the future now, we only played one game of the tournament.

“Everyone is to blame today, we made mistakes and it wasn’t our lucky day, but we promise you improvement in the future.”

The Pharaohs must now win their remaining two group games against Guinea-Bissau and Sudan in order to advance to the knockout stage of the 24-team tournament. The wins appear straightforward in theory, but only if the seven-time champs find their form.

Finishing second to Nigeria, which is the most likely scenario, would almost certainly give the Pharaohs an unwelcome and stressful Round-of-16 meeting with holders Algeria.

Algeria and Sierra Leone were held to a scoreless stalemate on Tuesday, the same outcome as Sudan and Guinea-Bissau, as newsmen reported