LUANDA: Egypt maintained their faultless Africa Cup of Nations’ title defence and World Cup qualifiers Nigeria became the latest team to progress to the quarter-finals in Angola
Egypt had already assured their last eight ticket but finished the first round with a 2-0 win over Benin in Benguela to top Group C with a maximum nine points. They are the only one of the 15 Cup contenders not to shed a point in the opening fortnight.
Egypt, who missed out on a ticket to South Africa 2010 in last November’s stormy
play-off with Algeria, continued their
seemingly charmed path with goals from Ahmed Al-Mohammadi and Emad Motaeb earning them a last eight date against the Group D runners-up — Cameroon, Tunisia or Gabon, on Monday.
For all the pre-competition hype promoting Ivory Coast as favourites it is the six-time champions who have put up a faultless first round display. This latest win stretched their record unbeaten run in the Africa Cup of Nations to 15 while the game was also a personal milestone for skipper Ahmed Hassan who won his 169th cap to tie the Egyptian record for most international appearances. Despite the scoreline, Egypt assistant coach, Shawki Gharib insisted the winning margin should have been more decisive.
In Lubango a double either side of the break from Russia-based Osaze Odemwingie and a late contribution from substitute Obafemi Martins earned Nigeria a comfortable 3-0 win over Mozambique. The Super Eagles now progress to a quarter-final tie against the winners of Group D. They join Ivory Coast, Angola, Algeria, Ghana and the Egyptians in the next stage with the final two places to be decided with the final batch of Group D games.