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Eguavoen faces selection headache ahead Nations Cup opener



Super Eagles interim coach, Austin Eguavoen, faces a tough task picking who leads his attack when the Eagles kick-off their journey for a fourth Africa Cup of Nations title when they play Egypt in Tuesday’s (today) Group D game at the Stade Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua, The PUNCH reports.

The Nigerian gaffer is also torn between starting the game with an out-and-out striker or deploy a false nine against the Pharaohs, our correspondent learnt.

The Eagles have been hit with the absences of key forwards Emmanuel Dennis, Odion Ighalo and Victor Osimhen.

Glasgow Rangers’ defender Leon Balogun and Omonia Nicosia’s Shehu Abdullahi also withdrew from the squad due to injury with the likes of Henry Onyekuru, Tyronne Ebuehi, Peter Olayinka and Semi Ajayi called up as replacements.

Nonetheless, Eguavoen can still count on the likes of Chidera Ejuke, Samuel Chukwueze, Je Aribo, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Nwakali and Wilfred Ndidi.

The former Eagles captain, who replaced Gernot Rohr in December, said, “In attack, we have options but I have not decided yet.

“We have Iheanacho who is a good option for us if we want to go with a false nine or Awoniyi, Olayinka and Umar if we have to play with a striker or go direct.

“We also need to decide on which partnership in defence for the game as nobody is guaranteed a place.”

Many expect the game to be tricky for both sides, especially as the winner of the tie will have a huge chance of finishing top of the group and avoid a difficult match-up in the round of 16 and Eguavoen admits his team will be going for a win against the Pharaohs.

“We have no worries. We respect Egypt, but Nigeria is a great team, and we didn’t come here to lose. I’m not looking for personal glory, but the most important thing I’m looking for is an achievement for Nigeria.”

The Eagles will be looking for their first competitive win over Egypt in 32 years.

The last time the Eagles beat the Pharaohs in a competitive game was in their second group game at the 1990 AFCON in Algeria, with fallen striker Rashidi Yekini grabbing the winner.

Since then, the three-time African champions have lost two times in competitive games against their North African rivals and drew twice.

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