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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: ‘It is a marathon’ - Eguavoen downplays Nigeria’s title chances

12:45 AM IST 15/01/22
Augustine Eguavoen
The Super Eagles handler doesn't believe his side are favourites in Cameroon, insisting his team will play each match as they come

Coach Augustine Eguavoen has played down talk of Nigeria being the favourites to win the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations title.

The Super Eagles got off to a flying start in Cameroon by defeating Egypt 1-0 at Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua.

Kelechi Iheanacho’s first-half effort from a Joe Aribo assist propelled the West Africans past the seven-time African kings to occupy the summit of Group A.

Thanks to that result, Nigeria are among the favourites to win a fourth African diadem, however, Eguavoen is not thinking about his side's title aspirations with just one match played.

“It’s hard to say because it is a marathon,” the Nigerian football great told media ahead of Saturday’s match versus Sudan.

“It’s only the first game and like you all know, Egypt are seven-time African champions and not pushovers.

“They are a very strong team and we played very well and I give credit to all the players.

“Talking about being favourites will be too early and that is what I have maintained.

“We are going to focus on our next game and approach it with all seriousness and after crossing that hurdle, we will be looking forward to the third game.”

Victory over the Falcons of Jedaine in Garoua would see Nigeria book a place in the Round of 16 with a game in hand.

When quizzed if there is a possibility of approaching the East and Central Africans with the same tactics adopted against Carlos Queiroz’s men, Eguavoen replied: “Every game comes with his own plan.

“We have three points, they have one point, we need to consolidate on that. They will be pushing hard to win and we want to qualify for the second round.

“We have discussed, the backroom staff and the players what is at stake [on Saturday].

“They don’t have a Mohamed Salah in their team, but they have like four players who are very fast too.

“They will be up against Nigeria and it is expected that they will raise their game.”

Nigeria have faced Sudan 14 times and their first game dates back to 1963. The Super Eagles have the upper hand with the most wins (eight) while Sudan boast of two victories.