BENGUELA: Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu faces an uncertain future and he may well again not take the team to the World Cup unless they bounce back from their opening Africa Cup of Nations loss to Egypt and at least progress to the semi-finals.
On Tuesday, the Super Eagles fell 3-1 to the Pharaohs, who were missing several key stars.
“We had the chance to wrap up this game in the first half because we controlled the game and created many chances but we could only score a goal, lamented the embattled Amodu, who was fired in 2002 after Nigeria failed to reach the final of the Nations Cup in Mali.
“Again, we were careless to concede two goals. That was a devastating blow for us.
The Eagles barely made it to the quarter-finals of Ghana 2008 after they beat Benin 2-0 in their final group game after they had lost their opening match to the Ivory Coast, before they were held to a draw by Mali.
But like it was two years ago in Ghana, defending champions Egypt have got off to a winning start in defense of their crown.
In 2008, Egypt spanked another highly-rated team, Cameroon, in Kumasi on their way to a record sixth Nations Cup triumph.
The defending champions are in Angola without Mohamed Abou-Trika, Mohamed Barakat, Amr Zaki and Ahmed “Mido Hossam, yet coach Hassan Shehata and his team went ahead to silence their critics with a solid opening day success over World Cup-bound Nigeria at the Ombaka Stadium outside Benguela.
Durable skipper Ahmed Hassan, who scored one of the goals and assisted in another, rolled back the years to stay on course for his fourth Nations Cup winners’ medal.
Egypt have staged a comeback for the first time since overturning a one-goal deficit to beat DR Congo 2-1 in the World Cup qualifiers in June 2006.
They never fell behind during their triumphant Nations Cup campaigns in 2006 and 2008.
The victory over Nigeria was the first for Egypt since 1977.
Group C Minnows Mozambique and Benin drew 2-2 leaving the Dutch coach of the Mambas, Mart Nooij, to remain upbeat of his team’s chances against defending champions Egypt on Saturday.
“Every game for us in Angola is a cup final and so would be the game against Egypt, said Nooij.
“I was a bit surprised by how easy Nigeria lost to Egypt, but we will fight because we have prepared very well for this tournament and that was why for the first 20 minutes, the players, who were so full of energy, lost their head for Benin to go in front.
“However, we played a wonderful second half to draw the game.
Mozambique under Nooij have already held ther own against some of Africa’s super powers like the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Tunisia.