World: Africa Cup of Nations
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K. Iheanacho (30)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Awoniyi and Super Eagles make big statement with 1-0 win over Egypt

Three Bundesliga actors saw significant action for their countries on Day Three of the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Ramy Bensebaini (Gladbach, Algeria), Omar Marmoush (Stuttgart, Egypt), and Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Nigeria) all stared for their sides. 

Of this trio, it was Awoniyi who clearly had the strongest day. The newly settled Köpenicker got three efforts on target (including a strike of the bar) off during Nigeria's 1-0 defeat of Africa's record champions.
Two Bundesliga strikers found themselves pitted against one another in a blockbuster match-up on Day Three of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria interim trainer Augustine Eguavoen opted to start Union Berlin's Taiwo Awoniyi alongside Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho in a 4-4-2. On the other side of the pitch, Egyptian head-coach Carlos Queiroz threw VfL Wolfsburg's (currently on loan at VfB Stuttgart) Omar Marmoush directly into the fray to left of Mohammed Salah in a 4-3-3. 

An early injury to right back Akram Tawfik seemed to through the Pharaohs off a bit and, as a result, the Nigerian Super Eagles were able to rack up an early advantage in terms of chance creation. The 2013 continental champions were quickly able to parlay this into steadily confident play. Midfielders Joe Aribo and Moses Simon were particularly effective in running the Nigerian attack. A fine Aribo nod-on the Iheanacho at the half-hour-mark was met with an equally impressive finish on the turn. The Super Eagles had a deserved 1-0 lead. Egypt, meanwhile, could muster almost no penetration.

Awoniyi, who finished with three shots on the day, got his best opportunity two minutes after the restart. The former Liverpool man's headed finish unfortunately hit the bar. Union's striker saw a couple other efforts go wide before being subbed off in the 72nd. Marmoush went the full 90. The Stuttgart forward racked up more than his fair share of touches on the day during numerous left-centric Egyptian attacks. His involvement couldn't be said to be very influential, however, as Queiroz's men again failed to get much dangerous together in the second half.

The fixture ended 1-0 in favor of the sub-Saharans. Though the teams were evenly matched in many respects, the result still counts as a fairly considerable upset. Egypt had not lost a group stage match at AFCON since 2004. Eguavoen's Super Eagles--dismissed by many after a late pre-tournament coaching change and several declined/refused call ups to the nation team--made a huge statement with their win. 

Elsewhere in Bundesliga related AFCON news, Ramy Bensebaini went the full 90 for Djamel Belmadi's Algerian squad as the Fennecs kicked off their title defense against Sierra Leone at the Japoma Stadium in Douala earlier in the day. The underdog Leone Stars gave the defending continental champions quite the scare, generating far better scoring opportunities during the first half. 

The desert foxes improved in the second half, but still weren't able to convert. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. Bensebaini missed the final chance at 90+2. A sharp, point blank effort from the BMG fullback from roughly ten meters out was nevertheless not good enough to beat Leone keeper Mohamed Kamara. Otherwise, the German professional turned in a serviceable performance with several deft passes and an overall strong presence on direct duels.

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