Nigeria Super Eagles ended a run of five games without a win as they edge Sierra Leone 2-1 in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying (AFCON2023Q) game in Abuja on Thursday.
The last time Nigeria’s senior team won a match was in January against Guinea Bissau in the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations, losing three and drawing two of their last five games since then.
Both teams who were at that AFCON tournament sought to start the race to the next tournament on a good note and the visitors drew the first blood in front of an empty stadium with Nigeria being punished for crowd troubles after their excruciating draw with Ghana in March.
Jonathan Morsay scored the goal for John Keister’s Leone Stars after just eleven minutes on the clock, heading home Musa Kamara’s cross. Dejavu thoughts rang in the heads of the hosts but that didn’t take long as Nigeria drew level five minutes later courtesy of a fine finish by Alex Iwobi.
Iwobi’s goal came shortly after Sierra Leone almost doubled their advantage but for Francis Uzoho’s save. Peseiro’s men however did not look back from thence.
What turned out to be the winner came four minutes to the break through top marksman Victor Osimhen. Ola Aina’s deep cross from the right had met an unmarked Moses Simon who flicked to the path of the Napoli striker who obliged with a sliding finish.
Peseiro adjusted his tactical shape in the second half by introducing Oghenekaro Etebo for striker Sadiq Umar at half time. That gave Nigeria the luxury of an extra man in midfield which largely reduced Nigeria’s problems at the back.
Samuel Chukwueze missed the half’s best chance for the Eagles after a chance was put on the plate by Osimhen before the visitors almost punished a sloppy defending with substitute Amadou Bakayoko toe-poking just wide in-between Semi Ajayi and Uzoho.
Nigeria held on for the win though and will now travel to Morocco where they will face Sao Tome and Principe in Agadir on Monday. Sao Tome were hammered 5-1 by Guinea Bissau on Thursday in the group’s other game.
Nigeria XI vs Sierra Leone
Uzoho; Ola Aina (Shehu 83′), Troost-Ekong (Omeruo 81′), Semi Ajayi, Calvin Bassey; Aribo, Iwobi; Chukwueze (Lookman 81′), Sadiq Umar (Etebo 46′), Osimhen (Moffi 90+2′), Moses Simon