Sports

Super-sub Ighalo to the rescue as Super Eagles pip Burundi in AFCON opener

Odion Ighalo with Super Eagles vs Seychelles

Substitute Odion Ighalo was the winner of the game for the Super Eagles on Saturday as his goal sealed a 1-0 win over Burundi.

The match, played inside the Alexandria Stadium, was the opening match of their campaign at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) holding in Egypt.

After a goalless first half, Ighalo, who finished as the highest goalscorer during the qualifiers, netted the winner in the 77th minute to frustrate the Swallows.

A hard-fighting Burundi were able to hold the Eagles goalless for most part of the game, and also had chances to score but their best chance was stopped by goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi.

Gernot Rohr’s men dominated the opening exchanges with young winger Samuel Chukwueze causing problems for the Burundi defenders, but efforts at goal proved abortive.

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Shehu Abdullahi was injured late in the first half and Chidozie Awaziem took his place.

In the second half, captain John Obi Mikel was brought off for Ahmed Musa and Paul Onuachu was also out for Ighalo, who would later seal the victory 7 minutes after joining the play.

Defender Ola Aina made a backheel pass that found the striker inside the 18-yard box, and he easily slotted in past the Burundi keeper, Jonathan Nahimana.

Three-time African champions Nigeria have started with a win in their campaign for a fourth AFCON title. It is the first time the team have won their first game in the AFCON since 2006.

They face Guinea in their next game on Wednesday, before playing another newcomers Madagascar in their final Group B encounter.

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Ben Ugbana

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