LUANDA, Jan 13, 2010 (AFP) - Champions Egypt kicked off their Africa Cup of Nations' title defence in scintillating style on Tuesday to restore some measure of sanity to proceedings in Angola after a spate of shocks on the opening two days.
The Egyptian national team pose before their football match against Nigeria in the group “C” stage match at the African Cup of Nations CAN2010 at the Ombaka stadium in Benguela on January 12, 2010. Egypt won 3-1. AFP PHOTO
Hustled out of a World Cup berth by bitter rivals Algeria in November's play-off the Pharaohs arrived here with motivation aplenty.
And they hit the ground running with a 3-1 defeat of Nigeria to top Group C ahead of Mozambique and Benin, who shared the spoils 2-2 in the day's other game.
After Angola's sensational collapse to Mali, Malawi's whipping of Algeria, and favourites Ivory Coast being held by Burkina Faso, Egypt took to the pitch at their peril.
But the six-time champions didn't falter as they brought an end to a 33-year-old winless run they have endured against the west Africans with the goals coming from Emad Motaeb, skipper Ahmed Hassan, and Substitute Mohamed Nagi.
Nigeria had taken an early lead through Chinedu Obasi.
Striker Mohamed Zidan said: "We didn't give up. I think we deserved the victory."
Egypt's assistant coach, Shawki Garib, added: "The victory over Nigeria is just the beginning, we still have a long way to go and so we still need our fans' genuine support and prayers."
Nigeria coach, Shuaibu Amodu, said his team paid the price for some schoolboy errors.
"We played well and controlled the game especially in the first half but somehow we made some silly mistakes and we were punished," said a miserable Amodu.
Later, Benin were on course for their first ever Africa Cup of Nations win when they shot out of the starting stalls to go two goals up in the first 20 minutes against Mozambique.
Their goals came via a penalty by Razak Omotoyossi and an own goal by Mozambique defender Dario Khan.
Mozambique's Almiro Lobo reduced the deficit before the half hour mark with Goncalves Fumo netting the equaliser in the 54th minute.
Benin coach, Michel Dessuyer, said: "I have to accept this result even though we lost a 2-0 lead. We failed to defend our advantage and now we have to focus on the next match against Nigeria."
His Mozambican counterpart, Mart Nooij, reflected: "The first 20 minutes was disastrous for us. After a good prepration, the players went into the game like a bull chasing after a red flag, but we came back in the second half and played a very wonderful game."
The latest developments from Friday's deadly attack on the Togo team bus centred on the arrest by Angolan police of two suspects wanted in connection with the machine gun assault which has cast a long shadow over the competition.
Burkina Faso, one of the three teams left in Cabinda where the attack took place, are desperate to leave the troubled province which has been the subject of a massive clampdown by security forces.
"We want to get to Luanda as quickly as possible due to the security question," Burkina Faso's assistant coach Gualbert Kabore declared.
"We have to stay in Cabinda until Saturday morning. Organisers have taken draconian measures and to get out we have to be accompanied by security personnel. It complicates life."
Meanwhile, 2010 World Cup boss Danny Jordaan told AFP that Angola was aware of the dangers of staging games in the restive enclave and must take responsibility for the attack.
"How long is it known that there is a separatist group in Angola for many many years? What are the possibilities of a terror attack? It was known," Jordaan said.
"It is a responsibility of the host nation to deal with those issues," said Jordaan, who led a technical team to Angola in 2006 to assess its readiness for the tournament, on behalf of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Wednesday's action sees Group D get up and running in Lubango, with Cameroon facing Gabon and Tunisia, champions in 2004 on home turf, up against Zambia.