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Super Eagles pick up scrappy win in AFCON Qualifying opener against Sierra Leone

Peseiro marks competitive debut with hard-fought win

Nigeria’s Super Eagles started their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign in the best possible manner with a 2-1 win over Sierra Leone at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja in their Group A opener.

Having lost two friendlies against Mexico and Ecuador at the start of his tenure in charge of the Super Eagles, Jose Peseiro needed his boys to deliver a win against the Leone Stars.

With the match still in its infancy and both teams trying to get a foothold in the game, the visitors took a shock lead inside 11 minutes.

Musa Kamara’s left-wing cross found the Super Eagles defense at sixes and sevens and Jonathan Morsay arrived virtually unchallenged to plant a firm diving header beyond Francis Uzoho’s despairing dive in the 11th minute.

Morsay struck a post via a save from Uzoho shortly after as the Leone Stars looked to press home their unexpected advantage against their more illustratious opposition.

The home side soon found themselves level through resurgent midfielder Alex Iwobi following some intelligent interplay in attack. Moses Simon passed the ball to the feet of the Everton man, who opened up his body to sidefoot an effort into the far corner after 16 minutes.

The Super Eagles continued to dominate and their opponents struggled to stay in the game by weathering the storm.

The home side went in front four minutes to half-time through Napoli star Victor Osimhen’s 11th international goal in only 22 appearances. A deep cross from Ola Aina was headed back across goal by Simon for Osimhen to blast home and effort from close range and turn the game on its head with half-time approaching.

The second half performance from both side’s was quite flat, with a definite lack of clear-cut openings for large periods. Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze missed the best chance of the half as he wastefully fired the ball beyond the upright after being put through on goal by a pass from Osimhen.

The Super Eagles held on to their lead without much incident until the end of regulation time to record a first win in six matches, a run that started at the 2021 AFCON. The Nigerian boys will now take on Sao Tome & Principe in their second group game on Tuesday in Marrakech.

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