Egypt never believed they could beat Nigeria in their Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header, says former Super Eagles goalkeeper Andrew Aikhuomogbe.
Italy-based Mohamed Salah snatched a last-gasp 1-1 draw for the Pharaohs in their first leg Group G class in Kaduna on March 25 to help the seven-time African champions maintain their two-point lead in the table. And they ended the Eagles’ Gabon 2017 qualification hopes after the North Africans won maximum points with Ramadan Sobhy’s second-half strike in the reverse fixture in Alexandria four days later to open a five-point at the top group with a game left to play.
Aikhuomogbe, who had predicted victory for Nigeria over Egypt in the two-legged fixture, lamented the Eagles failed to live up to expectations in the qualifiers. He said the Pharaohs felt inferior to the Eagles ahead of the encounters and had conceeded victory to the three-time African champions.
“They were afraid of Nigeria – and they never believed they could pick up a point, not to talk of beating us in the matches,” the Egypt-based former BCC Lions custodian told our correspondent on the telephone on Saturday.
“The double-header was a hot topic of discussion in the country. Egyptian radio and television stations focused on the matches.
“The Egyptian media and fans still believed the Eagles would win in Alexandria, in spite of the fact that their team got a good result in Kaduna.
“The manager (Hector Cuper) and the players were afraid of the Eagles. The media and fans were afraid of our players.
“The Egyptians were surprised their team got a point in Kaduna and beat us in Alexandria.”
The Cairo-based football agent said the Eagles’ caretaker coach Samson Siasia should not be blamed for the country’s failure to qualify for Gabon 2017, saying the former Nigeria attacker distinguished himself in his short time with the team.
Aikhuomogbe, who is backing Nigeria to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, urged the Nigeria Football Federation to encourage homegrown coaches by giving them a free hand to plan and execute their programmes.
The former Shooting Stars keeper added, “If the NFF insists on appointing a foreign coach, they have my support. But we should not downplay the achievements of Nigerian coaches.”