Rangers' Joe Aribo catches eye for Nigeria with assist against Egypt as forgotten former Ibrox man makes appearance

Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo played a key role for Nigeria as they began their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 victory over Egypt.

Nigeria's players celebrate after winning defeating Egypt.
Nigeria's players celebrate after winning defeating Egypt.

Aribo set up Nigeria striker Kelechi Iheanacho to score what turned out to be the winning goal on the half-hour mark in Garoua as they took a big step towards qualifying from Group D.

Egypt are seen as Nigeria’s biggest rivals in the pool, but the three-times winners of the tournament were far too strong for their opponents and ought to have won by more.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Aribo played as part of a three-man midfield, a role not too dissimilar to his at Rangers, and was at the heart of Nigeria’s good work going forward.

Rangers' Joe Aribo (No 10) played the full match for Nigeria in their 1-0 win over Egypt.

It was the 25-year-old who laid on the assist for Iheanacho, heading a loose ball into the path of the Leicester City striker to hammer home on the half-volley from just outside the box.

Aribo has been linked with a move to the English Premier League, with Southampton the latest team said to be interested, and his performance will have not gone unnoticed by his suitors.

He played the full 90 minutes and won his 12th cap for Nigeria. Former Rangers forward Umar Sadiq, who is now with Almeria, also made an appearance from the bench.

Nigeria were under the stewardship of caretaker boss Augustine Eguavoen, with new manager Jose Peseiro only watching from the stands.

Nigeria kept Egypt's Mo Salah quiet.

“Pulling up a win against Egypt was a surprise to many people but that was not a surprise to us,” said Eguavoen.

“We respected them, and we put in all our best to secure victory today. This game is gone, we have forgotten about it and we will focus on our next game.”

Egypt, who had Liverpool forward Mo Salah leading their forward line, were unable to seriously test Nigeria’s backline and will need to improve when they take on Guinea-Bissau in their next match on Saturday.

Nigeria can all but secure their place in their last 16 should they defeat Sudan on the same day. The Sudanese had a goalless draw against Guinea-Bissau in the other Group D match that took place on Tuesday.

In Group E, Algeria – who have former Rangers defender Majid Bougherra in their coaching set-up – were surprisingly held to a goalless draw by Sierra Leona in Doula.

Three matches are due to be played on Wednesday when Tunisia take on Mali, Mauritania meet Gambia and Equatorial Guinea face Ivory Coast.