Africa gets reason to cheer.
Nigeria got off to a flying start at the African Cup of Nations, with a sensational 1-0 victory over Egypt, one of the big favourites in the tournament.
Kelechi Iheanacho’s 30th-minute goal got the Nigerian trumpets blasting and set them on the right path to climb to the leadership of Group D and emerge as the top contender in the competition.
Ghana, Cameroun and Egypt are the other three top favorites in the African Cup of Nations.
Nigeria, the three-time champions, who will be making their 19th AFCON appearance this month, enjoyed an unbeaten qualifying journey where they finished at the summit of Group L to secure smooth entry into the group stages of the tournament.
Egypt, on the other hand, is currently the most decorated nation in Africa, conquering the continent on seven different occasions.
All eyes will be on Liverpool’s Saleh, “the African magician” and rated one of the deadliest strikers in the world. How well he can pull off his magic in Africa will soon be known.
He did not get off to a great start at the opening match. But magicians never get ruled out. And Saleh’s opponents know that.
The economics and distraction of soccer
As the African continent battles with insecurity, corruption, governance and poverty, soccer stands up as a much-needed tonic and distraction for the continent.
The competition’s winners will take home the prize money of $5 million (about N2.8 billion) while the runners-up will get $2.75 million.
For now, 200 million Nigerians are jubilating over their opening victory and are hoping this is a taste of things to come.