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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: ‘We weren’t on the pitch’ – Queiroz laments Egypt’s first half display against Nigeria

12:05 PM IST 12/01/22
Carlos Queiroz
The North Africans were silenced by the Super Eagles in Garoua and the Portuguese tactician rued a shambolic first-half showing

Carlos Queiroz was left unimpressed by Egypt’s first-half display in the 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations defeat to Nigeria and says his men "weren’t on the pitch".

The Pharaohs were pegged back after 30 minutes when Kelechi Iheanacho profited from a Joe Aribo pass to drill a beauty past goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy.

It could have been even worse for the North Africans, however, Augustine Eguavoen’s men missed several scoring opportunities.

Even after an improved second-half performance, the seven-time African kings failed to restore parity as their 18-year record in the tournament faded into thin air.

Addressing the media at a post-match press conference, Queiroz said: "The performance in the first half was very poor, and that’s the truth, we weren’t on the pitch.

“We only started playing in the second half. There’s no clear reason behind this failure and defeat against Nigeria.”

Prior to Tuesday’s match at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua, Egypt were undefeated in each of their last 16 group matches at Afcon. Their last defeat in the group phase was against Algeria at Tunisia 2004.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny were on parade from start to finish, regardless, they could not rescue the Egyptians from crumbling.

They sit at the base of Group D with no points and must defeat Guinea-Bissau in their second game to stand a chance of progressing to the knockout phase as they target a record eighth African title in Cameroon.

And Queiroz is still upbeat at his side’s chances of progressing to the Round of 16.

“We lost this match but there are still six points up for grabs against Sudan and Guinea-Bissau in order to qualify from the group.”

This is Egypt’s 25th appearance at the finals, a record in the history of the tournament. They have won it seven times, more than any other side.

But, they have won none of the last five editions after winning each of the previous three (2006, 2008, 2010).

They hosted the 2019 edition, but crashed out in the Round of 16 following a 1-0 loss to South Africa at the Cairo International Stadium, with Thembinkosi Lorch’s 85th-minute goal separating the teams.