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Player ratings: Iheanacho, Simon shine as Nigeria overcome Egypt

The Super Eagles played their best game in a long time, defeating the Pharaohs of Egypt 1-0 to start their African Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign on a winning note.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored a well-taken goal while it was an overwhelming team performance from Augustine Eguavoen’s side.
The performance of the Super Eagles in their first game of the continental tournament is rated as follows.
Maduka Okoye (3/5): Miscommunication and rush of blood saw him dash off his penalty area to deliver a poor clearance which the Egyptians could not capitalize upon. He, however, recovered to put in a composed performance, denying Mohammed Salah in the second half.
William Troost-Ekong (4/5): The captain of the day was sleek all through the game. Troost-Ekong organized his defence to maintain shape and prevent goal threat from the opposition. Salah’s sole opportunity was the only blip in a commanding performance.
Kenneth Omeruo (5/5): Omeruo was attack-minded while sniffing and snuffing out danger at every opportunity. The 2013 AFCON winner started the move for the goal but was unlucky to be stretchered off on 78 minutes.
Zaidu Sanusi (4/5): He silenced Mohamed Salah throughout the match. The Porto defender also brought his European experience to bear against the Liverpool forward who had few opportunities on the ball.
Ola Aina (4/5): Poor control and pass from him almost gave Egypt the opportunity to score but Aina recovered to put in a controlled shift. He also held his position to maintain a balanced defence while silencing wingers down his flank. He came out flying in the second half with a mazy run that almost led to a second goal.
Wilfred Ndidi (4.5/5): The midfield marshal never disappointed as he was his usual self all over the pitch. Ndidi won balls and also stopped attacks.
Joe Aribo (4.5/5): Was the perfect foil for Ndidi in midfield. He was good with his distribution and also timed his forward runs to perfection — one of which led to his header finding Iheanacho for the goal. He created more chances than any other player on the pitch.
Kelechi Iheanacho (5/5): The former under-17 star was a constant threat linking midfield and attack. His well-taken goal is a testament to his awareness of space and technical ability to strike the ball. Could have bagged a couple more goals but for uncharacteristic poor control and wayward finishing. Good start to his first AFCON tournament.
Samuel Chukwueze (2.5/5): He was not helped by the pitch but supported Ola Aina in defence. He, however, improved his attacking duties after the break. It was not the Villarreal man’s day.
Moses Simon (5/5): The Nantes of France winger was a threat all through the game with his explosive pace. His run and cross led to Iheanacho’s goal.
Taiwo Awoniyi (3.5/5): Was a typical center-forward who took the game to Egypt’s defence. Held up the ball well, pressed from the front, and was always available for the pass. Unlucky not to score a goal.
SUBSTITUTES
Umar Sadiq (2.5/5): Came on from Awoniyi and continued the target man role. He also showed what he can bring to the team when needed.
Chidera Ejuke (3/5): On for the final 15 minutes and eclipsed Chukueze. He had two chances to put Egypt to bed but was denied. Looks like a good player who could have an impact if presented with more playing time in Cameroon.
Semi Ajayi (3/5): Slotted into the backline in place of injured Omeruo and continued where he left off, ensuring the threat of Salah was snuffed out.
Kelechi Nwakali (N/R): Slotted into midfield and kept the shape on his debut.
Alex Iwobi (N/R): Brought on to run down the clock.

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