As recently as a few weeks ago, the idea of Nouhou outshining Mo Salah in a competitive match seemed so utterly absurd that even typing it out feels silly. But on Thursday, that’s exactly what happened.
Although Cameroon ultimately fell in penalties to Egypt to narrowly miss out on a trip to the Africa Cup of Nations final, Nouhou was one of the main reasons the Indomitable Lions even came that close. Deployed as a left-sided defender against arguably the best player in the world, Nouhou more than held his own and caused Mo Salah no shortage of frustration.
Nouhou was so good that Salah was basically a non-factor the entire match.
Mo Salah v. Cameroon (120 mins):— Matchday365 (@Matchday365) February 3, 2022
• 0 successful dribbles
• 0 key passes
• 0 shots on target
• 0 chances created
• 0 accurate crosses
• 0 accurate long balls
• 5 fouls
• 6x fouled
• 60% passing (12/20)
Man of the Match-esque performance by Cameroon LB Nouhou Tolo pic.twitter.com/dAcSCp17DW
Nouhou’s outstanding play stretched throughout the 120 minutes with many of his best moments coming in duels with Salah.
This is the Nouhou I love. pic.twitter.com/b9oPcUHVe9— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) February 3, 2022
As you might expect in a matchup like this, Nouhou mostly stayed in his half of the field. But he did get forward enough to create a few highlights.
Evergreen Tweet:— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) February 3, 2022
Nouhou is an absolute menace. pic.twitter.com/mx7u1WaxGX
One of Nouhou’s best moments came in overtime when he won a tackle and then sent in a throughball that created a dangerous chance for Cameroon.
Cameroon may have lost but we’ll always have Nouhou bossing the game. pic.twitter.com/yAnjmSLeN0— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 3, 2022
Nouhou caused so much frustration for Salah and the Pharaohs that he effectively induced Egypt’s coach into an ejection.
In the end, it wasn’t enough. But Nouhou did win 9 of 14 duels, drew five fouls and was 2-for-4 on tackles. There have long been rumors of international interest in Nouhou, but after a performance like that on a stage like this, it’s not at all hard to imagine some big offers coming in this summer.
If you really want to dig in, one of our readers compiled an every-touch video of his performance.