Afcon 2021: Austin Eguavoen reveals the tactics he used to stop Mo Salah in Nigeria

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Nigeria’s coach, Augustine Eguavoen has revealed how his players managed to stop Egypt and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah in their recent emphatic 1-0 win in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

The Super Eagles came into the match on Tuesday as underdogs due to the absence of star strikers, Victor Osimhen and Odion Ighalo while Egypt boasted Mo Salah the in-form Liverpool star, but a Kelechi Iheanacho strike ensured Nigeria took all three points.

Egypt hoped Salah would carry his club form to the national team, but he ended up struggling against a sturdy defence line marshalled by Troost Ekong of Watford.

Eguavoen has now explained why it was tough for the Liverpool star to cause problems for Nigeria using his love of Basketball in his analogy.

“In terms of preparation and strategy, we had a special plan for Mohamed Salah because we know his quality,” Eguavoen told BBC Sport Africa.

“Basketball is one game that I love so much. When you are playing against the likes of Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan and others, if you don’t double-team you’ll have a problem.

“That is the same strategy that I bring into football. So when Mo Salah is with the ball, the closest person goes to him and the next person has to double-team to make him play back.

“It worked for us like 80%, but Salah broke loose on one or two occasions which is normal, but again congratulations to the boys because they are so intelligent.”

“Let’s not go too far ahead of ourselves. But I am extremely proud of the boys,” Eguavoen continued.

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“There were comments and stuff being said about them before the tournament but they are absolutely professional. When you tell them something it sinks in immediately and that is a good thing we’ve got going well for us.

“They followed instructions, they did exactly what we wanted them to do. When you are tired, someone automatically fills the gap for you. This is the only spirit that can take us very far. Respect the players and they return the treatment.”

The Super Eagles’ next match in Group D will be on Saturday against Sudan who drew 0-0 with Guinea Bissau in their initial fixture.

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