The Super Eagles of Nigeria coasted to victory as they opened their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 win over debutants Burundi on Saturday.
Second half substitute Odion Ighalo scored the only goal after 77 minutes in Alexandria with a curled finish after a wonderful back-heeled pass from Ola Aina.
Gernot Rohr made an attack-minded substitution just before the hour mark, withdrawing captain and midfielder Mikel Obi and putting on forward Ahmed Musa. This allowed Alex Iwobi to come inside off the flank and play a more traditional ‘number 10’ role.
Nigeria were without striker Samuel Kalu, who had been taken to hospital after suffering from “severe dehydration” in training on Friday – a day after players’ union Fifpro had called for the tournament organisers to increase their planned number of heat breaks from two to four per match.
Wilred Ndidi at the end of the match was selected as the Total Man of the Match.
Nigeria were able to see out the remainder of the match and secure three valuable points in the hunt for a fourth Nations Cup crown, while the Swallows will be disappointed at the result but should take pride from their brave performance.
The three times champions will hope to put in a vastly improved performance against Guinea on Wednesday, while Burundi face Madagascar a day later.
Meanwhile, it was the end of the road for the Super Falcons at the FIFA Women World Cup after bowing to the two-time champions Germany at Stade des Alpes on Saturday.
First half goals from Alexandra Popp, Sara Dabritz plus Lea Schuller’s second-half effort sent the African champions packing from the world stage.
Thomas Dennerby’s side hopes of a comeback were crushed when Schuller’s 82nd-minute strike confirmed the exit of the African champions.
The loss means Nigeria have now failed to win a knockout game in all eighth campaigns in the World Cup tournament.
Nigeria’s elimination from the competition leaves Cameroon, who are scheduled to face England today, as the only remaining African side left in the showpiece.