KADUNA, March 25 – Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations suffered a massive setback Friday when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Egypt who scored in the last minute.
The draw meant Egypt stay on top of Group G with seven points from three matches and host Nigeria in a reverse fixture in Alexandria on Tuesday.
Nigeria are second with five points with Tanzania on four points.
Only the overall group winners are guaranteed automatic passage to the final tournament in Gabon next year.
Oghenekaro Etebo put Nigeria ahead on the hour, when he scrambled home off a rebound after Kelechi Iheanacho’s shot came off the post.
However, in stoppage time, Mohammed Salah sprung an offside trap by the home team to draw Egypt level.
Nigeria bossed possession after a bright start to the game, but Egypt threatened on the counter.
Super Eagles goalkeeper Carl Ikeme pulled off the first big save of the day when he put out his foot to block a goal-bound effort by Ahmed Hassan ‘Kouka’ after 18 minutes.
Egypt goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi was also at his best in the closing moments of the half when he turned away a low, goal-bound shot by Kelechi Iheancho in the 45th minute.
In stoppage time, Odion Ighalo failed to direct his shot from inside the box with the Egypt defence at his mercy.
Nigeria continued to attack after the interval with coach Samson Siasia giving Arsenal youngster Alex Iwobi his first official game for the Eagles late on.
Ikeme was forced to make another big save after 65 minutes as Egypt chased for an equaliser.
In the 72nd minute, Ahmed Musa was denied by El-Shennawi, who kept out a goal-bound shot by the CSA Moscow star.
Six minutes from time, Victor Moses went clean on goal but his shot was cleared off the goal line by Hamada Tolba.
And just when Nigeria thought they had shaded this contest, Salah stole in draw Egypt level at the death.