Nigeria came from a goal down to overcome Sierra Leone, 2-1 in their first qualifying match for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, on Thursday evening at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.
Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen scored for the Super Eagles after Jonathan Morsay’s early opener for the Leone Stars. The win takes Nigeria to joint-top in Group A with Guinea-Bissau, who thrashed Sao Tome & Principe 5-1.
Sierra Leone seemed to adjust more swiftly to the rough playing surface, as striker Mohamed Buya Turay tried to open the scoring in the third minute, with Francis Uzoho tipping his effort over the crossbar.
The Super Eagles had a few of chances through Victor Osimhen, and it looked like they’d take control of the game shortly, but they were startled when the Leone Stars took the lead in the 11th minute.
Musa Kamara whipped in a superb cross from the left flank and Jonathan Morsay rushed himself at the ball and scored with a diving header to put the visitors up 1-0.
Just a few minutes later, Sierra Leone broke through Nigeria’s defense on a counter-attack, and Musa Kamara hit a low effort that Uzoho tipped onto the post.
In the 16th minute, Alex Iwobi was put into space on the edge of the box after Simon made a well-weighted ball, and blasted a shot into the bottom corner of the net.
After exchanging half-chances, Nigeria took the lead for the first time in the 41st minute when Ola Aina’s cross found Simon, who added a second assist with a downward header across the six-yard box that was buried home by Osimhen to make it 2-1.
The Super Eagles tweaked their set up at the start of the second half, with Sadiq Umar being replaced by Peter Etebo.
Nigeria had half chances to kill off the game in the secondhalf, but one that was so clear was the miss by Samuel Chukwueze in the 54th minute.
William Troost-Ekong (groin) and Osimhen (hamstring) both suffered injuries at the tale end of the game and were replaced by Kenneth Omeruo and Terem Moffi.
Nigeria’s next game is away at Sao Tome & Principe, while Sierra Leone will host Guinea-Bissau.
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