By John Egbokhan
Though they lost, the Eagles played themselves into reckoning to the delight of the crowd. The Eagles, made up of players from the Nigeria Premier League, held their own and played a positive game against their more experienced opponents inside the El Nasri Stadium in Dubai.
It was the 10th meeting between the two continental giants, who were both missing in action at the last Nations Cup, jointly hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
It was the Eagles who fired into the lead in the 13th minute through Sunday Mba after he was set up by Uche Kalu. It was the perfect start that Coach Stephen Keshi could have asked for from his local charges, captained by goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim.
Egypt equalised on 25 minutes when midfielder Ahmed Temsah cashed in on a defensive blunder between centre halves Azubuike Egwuekwe and Papa Idris.
Egypt then went in front on 33 minutes, courtesy of a penalty kick netted by Mohamed Aboutrika after defender Juwon Oshaniwa fouled an Egyptian player inside the goal area.
Nigeria equalised on 42nd minutes through a fine goal by Enyimba forward, Uche Kalu, from an Ejike Uzoenyi corner.
It was a just reward for the Eagles as they piled pressure after they went behind for the first time in the game.
Just when it appeared there would be no more goals in the match, the Pharaohs scored the winner in stoppage time through Ahmed Hassan Mekki after an error in the Eagles defence.
Egypt featured their top stars like Mohammed Aboutrika, Hossam Ghaly, Hossam Ashour with Sunderland ace Ahmed Elmohamady starting from the bench after his English side freed him to join his country’s team.
They made as many as six changes after the interval.
Uzoenyi was the man of the match from the Nigerian side. He was a torn in the flesh of the Pharaohs, whose coach, Bob Bradley looked worried anytime the Rangers man was with the ball.