The Super Eagles were denied the chance of going top on the standings in Group G of the 2017 AFCON Qualifiers after they were forced to a 1-1 draw by the Pharaohs of Egypt at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna on Friday.
Oghenekaro Etebo got the only goal for Nigeria on the hour-mark after a goal mouth scramble that finally broke the resilience of the Egyptians who looked very much contented with a draw.
But what was looking like a fair result was overturned when Roma’s Mohammed Salah got the equaliser.
The Eagles started quite brightly with Ahmed Musa launching the first attack from the right flank but his cross was intercepted by the Egyptians.
The Eagles continued to press for an early goal but could not break the resilient Egyptians who gradually settled into the game and began to make their own incursions.
Roma’s Mohamed Salah was the first major threat against the Eagles with his tricky moves getting the better of debutant Stanley Amuzie.
The Egyptians came very close to getting a shock lead when Salah made a wonderful effort before laying the ball off to El-Said who passed to an unmarked Koka. But Koka saw his strike hit the Nigerian keeper Carl Ikeme who forced the ball for a corner.
At the other end, Ighalo gave an instant reply just two minutes later when he was allowed to cut inside and strike towards goal, but El-Shennawi thwarted the Watford man.
Nigeria had a free-kick moments later but Moses Simon rocketed the ball into the high heavens. Etebo also took a free-kick but did not make the most of the chance.
The Egyptians were able to curtail Nigeria well in the first half but in the dying stages, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ighalo had good chances but could not bury the ball in the net.
In the second half, the Eagles started brightly also but had to wait till the 60th minute before they finally tucked the ball in through Etebo.
The trio of Victor Moses, Umar Aminu and Alex Iwobi all came in the second half and tried to make their presence count.
Moses came the closest to doubling Eagles’ lead but was denied by a goal line clearance.
The hearts of the thousands of fans present at the Kaduna stadium got broken when Salah in the first minute of extra time beat the offside trap to tuck in the equaliser that now puts them in pole position for qualification.
The second half comes up in four days’ time in Alexandria.