SAN FRANCISCO, June 22, (THEWILL) – Nigeria’s Super Eagles on Saturday defeated Burundi 1-0 in team’s opening match at ongoing Africa Nations Cup (AFCON) in Egypt.
Eagles striker Odion Ighalo who came in as substitute netted the only goal of the match for the Super Eagles to seal a vital three points for the Gernot Rohr tutored side.
The Shanghai Shenhua forward had been on the pitch only four minutes in Egyptian Mediterranean city Alexandria when he struck the 77th-minute winner.
Debutants Burundi battled bravely throughout before a small crowd that included four-time African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto’o from Cameroon, one of the tournament ambassadors.
Nigeria, back at the Cup of Nations after failing to qualify for the last two editions, dominated first-half possession as anticipated but seldom threatened to score.
Kenneth Omeruo, one of two survivors in the starting line-up from the Nigeria team that won the 2013 Cup of Nations, came close soon after half-time with a header off a free-kick.
As the hour mark approached, Rohr took off veteran captain John Obi Mikel and introduced Ahmed Musa, hoping the pace of the wide attacker could unlock the Burundi defence.
Ighalo, the leading scorer in the qualifying competition with seven goals, later replaced Onuachu and soon broke the deadlock.
A superb pass from Ola Aina set up Ighalo to fire past the onrushing Nahimana and the ball landed in the far corner of the net.