Nigeria interim coach Augustine Eguavoen has revealed his basketball-inspired plan that helped to stop Mohamed Salah scoring at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Egypt fell to a 1-0 defeat yesterday afternoon against the Super Eagles, with Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho scoring the game’s only goal.
Much of the talk heading into this match had centred around Salah and whether or not he would be able to inspire his country to AFCON glory, though the 29-year-old was kept quiet as Nigeria took control of the contest.
Salah’s inability to breach the Nigeria backline may have been no coincidence, however, as Eguavoen explained how his side devised a ‘double-team’ strategy to limit his effectiveness.
“In terms of preparation and strategy, we had a special plan for Mohamed Salah because we know his quality,” the Nigeria coach 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 one or two occasions which is normal, but again congratulations to the boys because they are so intelligent.”
After suffering defeat in their first match of the tournament, Egypt now have two group stage games remaining against Guinea Bissau and Sudan.
Elsewhere, Liverpool duo Naby Keita and Sadio Mane both helped their respective nations to three points with Guinea and Senegal each earning 1-0 wins.