Nigeria, Egypt reach AFCON last 16

Nigeria became the first team to qualify for the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations as they beat Guinea 1-0.

Three-time winners Nigeria scored the only goal in the 73rd minute when Moses Simon’s right-wing corner was headed in at the near post by Kenneth Omeruo.

They now have six points from their two games after a 1-0 win over Burundi in their first match on Saturday.

The top two nations in each of the six groups advance, along with the four best third-placed countries.

Nigeria dropped captain John Mikel Obi, who played for Middlesbrough in 2018-19, but their side did include Brighton defender Leon Balogun, Stoke midfielder Peter Etebo, Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi.

The Gunners man had one of the best chances when it was goalless with a curled effort from just outside the penalty area, but Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone produced a spectacular one-handed save to push it over the bar.

Guinea’s side included Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, who was making his first start for club or country since 1 May, when he picked up a groin injury in the Reds’ 3-0 loss to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

However, Keita received some strong challenges and only lasted 71 minutes before he was substituted.

He was replaced just before a Nigeria corner and Guinea, who now have one point from their two matches, went behind instantly thanks to Omeruo’s header.

The other two nations in Group B, Madagascar and Burundi, play on Thursday (15:30 BST), before Burundi take on Guinea and Madagascar face Nigeria in the final round of group games on Sunday.

Also, the Pharaohs of Egypt have joined Nigeria in the round of 16 after defeating DR Congo 2-0 in Cairo on Wednesday.

Goals from skipper Ahmed Elmohamady and the sensational Mohamed Salah saw Egypt take maximum points to move top of Group A with six points.

After Nigeria beat Guinea 1-0 in Alexandria to go through, the host nation picked cue and progressed. DR Congo on their end are staring at a possible early exit from the tournament after losing a second consecutive game.

Salah lifted the roof off the Cairo International Stadium with one of his trademark finishes two minutes to the break as the home side finished off the half in an emphatic fashion, doubling their tally and sitting pretty on top of the tie against the Leopards.

DR Congo would feel aggrieved as they headed to the break 2-0 down having hit the woodwork twice. In the 10th minute, skipper Marcel Tisserand extended a leg to tap the ball goal-ward off a corner but it came against the crossbar.

Four minutes before Salah scored the second, Jonathan Bolingi Mpangi saw his looping header from the edge of the six yard box go beyond Mohamed Elshenawy but against the crossbar.

Save for those two scares, Egypt were more or less top of the proceedings, powered by a full to capacity stadium. Salah came close in the 4th minute when he picked the ball inside the box but his shot was deflected for a corner.

Egypt broke the deadlock in the 24th minute, skipper Elmohamady scoring his third goal in six games for the Pharaohs, tapping the ball home after the Congolese defense failed to deal with a Salah cross.

Salah himself forced DR Congo keeper Ley Matampi to a full stretch save on the half hour mark off a freekick. He finally got his goal in the 43rd minute after wrapping his favorite left foot well to curl the ball beyond Matampi.

Salah had been released with a delightful through pass by Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan who had dribbled from all the way back in his half.

Though Congo came back a determined side in the second half with Cedric Bakambu and Yannick Bollasie having scoring chances, Egypt held on for the win.

Egypt finish their group stage matches against Egypt on Sunday while DR Congo face Zimbabwe at the 30th of June Stadium. BBC, Agency report.

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