Super Eagles . Photo/twitter/NGSuperEagles
The Super Eagles on Thursday laboured to a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the match was one of the Match Day 1 fixtures of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifiers.
Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen’s first half goals made the difference as the Super Eagles struck back after the away side took a shock early lead.
The Super Eagles started strong at the onset, boasting of more ball possession as they looked for the long balls, attempting to pin the opposition back.
Victor Oshimen missed two clear goal-scoring chances in the sixth and ninth minutes as the Super Eagles pressed for the opening goal.
Still, the Leone Stars’ defence did well to repel the attacks, albeit struggling to keep a hold of it themselves.
It was however the visitors who opened scoring against the run of play through John Morsay from a powerful header in the 11th minute following a brilliant cross the left.
Mohamed Turay could have increased the lead for the visitors three minutes later.
But he missed a lovely chance after his shot which left goalkeeper Francis Uzoho for dead hit the far upright.
Alex Iwobi however got the equaliser for Nigeria barely two minutes later after a brilliant finish into the far-right following good work from Moses Simon in the 16th minute.
There was no much luck for Oshimen, in spite of how much his teammates kept looking for him with long balls.
He saw his point-blank shot saved by goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara after a brilliant work and lovely pass from Simon.
The Napoli star however got the goal he so badly needed in the 40th minute, after a brilliant cross from Ola Aina was headed down by Simon for him to stretch and poke home.
Head Coach José Peseiro looked to gain more control of the match at the start of the second half, as he brought in Oghenekaro Etebo for Sadiq Umar.
With Etebo now alongside Aribo as the pivot, the Super Eagles looked more solid as they kept the ball nicely with the defence leaving little or no space for the visitors’ counter-attacks.
The switch in formation also helped the hosts link well with Samuel Chukwueze, Simon and Aina all finding each other with ease.
Chukwueze however squandered a lovely goal-scoring opportunity to put the game to bed in the 54th minute as his angled shot went wide off target, with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Sierra Leone had an opportunity of their own five minutes later through substitute Amadou Bakayoko who missed in what was a let-off for Nigeria in the 59th minute.
This was when he rounded goalkeeper Uzoho after the Nigeria defenceline went into a state of disarray, but he could not quite find one more touch to direct the ball goalward.
Peseiro made four more changes with Ademola Lookman coming in for Chukwueze, Abdullahi Shehu for Aina and Kenneth Omeruo for the injured William Ekong as Nigeria held on for the win.
It was hardly the most convincing display from the Super Eagles, but it was three points sealed after a much-needed comeback.
Nigeria will next take on Sao Tome and Principe in a day two AFCON qualifier in Marrakech, Morocco on Monday.