The Super Eagles of Nigeria kicked off their nations cup quest on the right footings edging a resilient Saido Berahino-led Burundi side 1-0 in Alexandria.
Burundi who are ranked the lowest African side in the latest fifa ranking amongst the 24 participating teams in Egypt defied their underdog status to really give Gernot Rohr’s side a fight for their own.
Burundi were denied by the bar in the 37th minute when Cedric Nsabiyumva’s header off a Shassir Nahimana freekick on the left came against the woodwork. Nsabiyumva picked up the rebound but his volley went wide off target.
The East Africans almost had a point to show for their debutant performance no thanks to late substitute Odion Ighalo’s 77 minute close range finish after a neat back heeled assist from the impressive Torino right-back Ola Aina, much to the delight of the Super Eagles.
Samuel Chukwueze was the most exciting player off the left wing as his pace and trickery on the ball often proved to be too much to bear for the Burundian defenders.
It was an entertaining contest indeed in Alexandria, and a much valuable 3 points opener for the West Africans, who had been absent in the past 2 editions of Afcon.