Odion Ighalo showed the stuff he is made of coming into the pitch as a second half substitute to snatch a winner for Nigeria against Burundi.
The Shengai Shenhua striker’s goal ensured Nigeria picked up all three points against the stubborn minnows on Saturday in the opening game of Group B Africa Cup of Nations.
He had only been on the pitch for four minutes before giving the Super Eagles the lead with a powerful curl armer with pinpoint accuracy into the far right corner of the post in the 77th minute.
However, it was an unconvincing performance from the Super Eagles and three-time AFCON winners as they failed for most parts of the encounter to break down a resilient Burundi defense which was well-organized and ready to make the needed interceptions to break Nigeria’s attacking runs in the final third.
Debutants Burundi struggled to keep the Super Eagles shut out before a small crowd that included Samuel Etoo, four time African Footballer of the Year and former Nigerian International Kanu Nwankwo, all tournament ambassadors.
Though Burundi who qualified at the expense of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s Gabon are 89 places below Nigeria in the World ranking, they have no chance to inferiority complex, coming closesd to breaking the deadlock in the first half.
Cedric Amissi darted on to a brilliantly weighted pass and it took a brave parry from Nigeria goalie, Daniel Akpeyi to prevent a sizzling close-range shot finding the net.
Just before that, Nigeria came close through Paul Onuachu rising above every surrounding defender and forcing a save from Jonathan Nahimana.
The Super Eagles who have missed out on the Africa Cup for the last two editions dominated the first half proceedings like expected but failed to make anything of it in the first forty-five minutes.