Nigeria 1 Burundi 0: Super Eagles open AFCON campaign with slender win
Getty Images
Group B favourites Nigeria were frustrated by a well-organised Burundi outfit but a late Odion Ighalo strike sealed all three points.

Nigeria's Africa Cup of Nations campaign got off to a winning start on Saturday as they edged out Burundi 1-0.

Gernot Rohr's side, who are 89 places above Burundi in FIFA's world rankings, struggled for long periods in their Group B opener at the Alexandria Stadium but sealed all three points in the 77th minute.

Odion Ighalo, introduced for Paul Onuachu just four minutes earlier, latched onto Ola Aina's wonderful back-heeled pass and coolly whipped the ball past Jonathan Nahimana.

Nigeria will hope to put in a vastly improved performance against Guinea on Wednesday, while Burundi face Madagascar a day later.

Nigeria struggled in the early stages and could have fallen behind after 14 minutes but Daniel Akpeyi pawed away Cedric Amissi's powerful volley.

At the other end, Samuel Chukwueze blazed over from Alex Iwobi's pull-back shortly before the half-hour mark, while an unmarked John Obi Mikel headed wide from six yards soon after.

Burundi ended the half strongly, with only a fingertip save from Akpeyi keeping out Frederic Nsabiyumva's looping header.

Article continues below

Kenneth Omeruo headed over shortly after the restart for the Super Eagles before Akpeyi pushed Fiston Abdul Razak's long-range drive around the post.

The stage was then set for Ighalo, the Shanghai Shenhua forward clinically lifting past Nahimana and in off the right-hand post to get his side up and running in the tournament.

Key Opta facts:
- Nigeria have won their opening game at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2006 (1-0 against Ghana).
- Nigeria have won five of their six games against a debutant team at the Africa Cup of Nations (D1).
- Nigeria are unbeaten in their last six AFCON group stage games (W4, D2).
- Odion Ighalo scored just three minutes and 27 seconds after coming on. He scored his first goal during his first AFCON game, on his first shot.
- Mohamed Amissi became the first player born in 2000 to play a game at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Comments ()