LUANDA, January 21 – Egypt maintained their faultless Africa Cup of Nations' title defence and World Cup qualifiers Nigeria became the latest team to progress to the quarter-finals in Angola on Wednesday.Egypt had already assured their last eight ticket but finished the first round with a 2-0 win over Benin in Benguela to top Group C with a maximum nine points.
They are the only one of the 15 Cup contenders not to shed a point in the opening fortnight.
Egypt, who missed out on a ticket to South Africa 2010 in last November’s stormy play-off with Algeria, continued their seemingly charmed path with goals from Ahmed Al-Mohammadi and Emad Motaeb earning them a last eight date against the Group D runners-up – Cameroon, Tunisia or Gabon, on Monday.
For all the pre-competition hype promoting Ivory Coast as favourites it is the six-time champions who have put up a faultless first round display.
This latest win stretched their record unbeaten run in the Africa Cup of Nations to 15 while the game was also a personal milestone for skipper Ahmed Hassan who won his 169th cap to tie the Egyptian record for most international appearances.
Despite the scoreline, Egypt assistant coach, Shawki Gharib insisted the winning margin should have been more decisive.
And he added: "We are here to defend our crown as champions of Africa. All the games here are tough, but we are here to fight and in the end succeed. This is a feeling shared by the entire team."
Benin coach Michel Dessuyer said his team have learned lessons in Angola.
"We were unlucky not to make the impact we had hoped for here. We have taken some lessons from this experience and we will continue to work hard for us to do far better next time," said the French coach.
In Lubango a double either side of the break from Russia-based Osaze Odemwingie and a late contribution from substitute Obafemi Martins earned Nigeria a comfortable 3-0 win over Mozambique.
The Super Eagles now progress to a quarter-final tie against the winners of Group D.
They join Ivory Coast, Angola, Algeria, Ghana and the Egyptians in the next stage with the final two places to be decided on Thursday with the final batch of Group D games.
Odenwingie said: "I’m happy for the team. We had a lot of pressure on us, but since the start of the competition we have made daily progress, from the goalkeepers to the strikers."
Under-fire Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu added: "My job is to do a good CAN – I can’t avoid the critics. I’m happy that the boys were able to deliver the goods.
"As for our next rivals let me enjoy this victory today before speaking about Cameroon or any other team."
Mozambique coach Maart Nooij commented: "I can’t be disappointed, my players gave everything they had to give. We arrived here with our heads held high, and we’re leaving with our heads held high."
On Thursday a draw against Zambia will secure a last-eight appearance for Gabon, while World Cup-bound Cameroon will join them with a win over 2004 champions Tunisia.