Jose Peseiro recorded his first competitive win as the Super Eagles coach, following his team’s hard- fought 2-1 win against Sierra Leone in their opening Group A game of the 2023 AFCON qualifiers in Abuja, Completeports.com reports.
Going into Thursday’s game, the Eagles had failed to win their last five games, losing three and drawing two.
The Eagles came from behind to beat the Leone Stars thanks to goals from Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen, with Moses Simon providing the assists for both goals.
Jonathan Morsay gave Sierra Leone a shock lead with a diving header.
Sierra Leone had the first attempt on goal in the fourth minute off a counter but Mohamed Turay’s shot was tipped over the bar by Francis Uzoho.
In the sixth minute Osimhen almost broke the deadlock but his header from Calvin Bassey’s cross went inches off target.
Osimhen went close again on 10 minutes with an instinctive strike on the edge of the box from a pass from Alex Iwobi which went just wide.
The Sierra Leoneans took the lead on 11 minutes through Morsay who headed in a left wing cross.
In the 15th minute the Leone Stars almost doubled their lead but Uzoho got down well to palm the effort against the post.
The Eagles equalized in the 16th minute through Iwobi, who collected a pass from Simon on the edge of the box before slotting into the far corner with the keeper stranded.
Samuel Chukwueze and Simon went close on 20 minutes with the former seeing his shot blocked inside the box while the latter’s header was saved by the Leone Stars keeper.
In the 34th minute Osimhen made a headed knockdown but Sierra Leone keeper got to the ball before Sadiq to avert the danger.
On 41 minutes Osimhen made it 2-1 as he stretched to slot home Simon’s headed cross.
Simon had the opportunity to extend the Super Eagles’ lead after a cross into the box from Sadiq was not properly cleared, but the Nantes man saw his strike stopped by Sierra Leone keeper.
Prior to the start of the second half the Eagles made their first change with Oghenekaro Etebo replacing Sadiq.
Six minutes into the second half Chukwueze had the chance to get on the score sheet after receiving the ball on the edge of the box but shot wide.
Chukwueze had a superb chance to make it 3-1 on 55 minutes after he was teed up by Osimhen but saw his strike go inches wide.
On the hour mark, substitute Amadou Bakayoko almost equalized for Sierra Leone but his poked attempt from a cross hit the side netting with Uzoho well beaten.
Few minutes later the Eagles could have extended their lead from a corner but a Sierra Leonean player cleared off the line.
The Eagles kept probing and went close on 68 minutes but Bassey’s dangerous low cross evaded every player inside the box.
With 20 minutes left Osimhen rose highest to head Bassey’s cross which just miss the target.
On 74 minutes Chukwueze went past his marker on the right but his cross was too high for Osimhen to head.
With 10 minutes left to play the Eagles assistant skipper William Troost-Ekong was stretched off and was replaced by Kenneth Omeruo.
Also the duo of Ademola Lookman and Shehu Abdullahi went in for Chukwueze and Ola Aina respectively.
Lookman almost marked his introduction with a goal on 84 minutes, as he ran on to a headed pass from Osimhen but his shot was blocked for a corner.
In two minutes of added time Bakayoko almost made it 2-2 but the ball was nicked off his legs by Aribo who he fouled.
Up next for the Eagles is an away tie against São Tomé and Principe in Agadir, Morocco, on Monday 13th June.
Guinea Bissau 5-1 Sao Tome & Principen
In the other Group A game also played on Thursday, Guinea-Bissau got off to a perfect start after hammering visiting São Tomé and Principe 5-1.
Edmilson Viegas opened scoring for São Tomé and Principe in the 21st minute, but five minutes before the end of the first half Alfa Semedo equalized for Guinea-Bissau.
In the second half, a brace from Zinho Gano on 50 and 58 minutes and strikes from Zidane Banjaqui on 80 minutes and Jorginho in the 87th minute sealed the emphatic win.
And after the first round of games the Group A, Guinea-Bissau are top while the Super Eagles are second. Sierra Leone and São Tomé and Principe are in third and fourth positions respectively.
NIGERIA 2 – 1 SIERRA LEONE
Scorers: Nigeria – Alex Iwobi 16′; Victor Osimhen 41′
Sierra Leone – Jonathan Morsay 11′
Yellow Cards: John Kamara (SLE, 31′; Oghenekaro Etebo (NGA, 48′); Alie Sesay (SLE, 64′); Alhassan Koroma (SLE, 66′); Ola Aina (NGA, 72′)
NIGERIA Starting Lineup:
23. Francis Uzoho (GK)
21. Calvin Bassey
5. William Troost Ekong, capt. (22. Kenneth Omeruo 82′)
6. Semi Ajayi
2. Ola Aina (12. Shehu Abdullahi 82′)
15. Moses Simon
10. Joe Aribo
18. Alex Iwobi
11. Samuel Chukwueze (13. Ademola Lookman 81′)
17. Sadiq Umar (8. Oghenekaro Etebo, 45′)
9. Victor 0simhen (19. Terem Moffi 91′)
Subs Not Used:
16. Adeyinka Adewale
14. Emmanuel Dennis
7. Ahmed Musa
3. Zaidu Sanusi
20. Curiel Dessers
4. Frank Onyeka
Coach: Jose Peseiro (Portugal)
SIERRA LEONE Starting Lineup
1. Mohamed Kamara
2. Osman Kakay
21. Emmanuel Samadia
5. Steven Caulker (Capt.)
4. Alie Sesay
6. John Kamara (19. Mustapha Bundu 78′)
12. Kamil Conteh
8. Alhassan Koroma
25. Jonathan Morsay (9. Amadou Bakayoko 58’l
10. Mohamed Buya Turay
26. Musa Kamara (24. Augustus Kargbo 68′)
Subs Not Used:
16. Ibrahim Sesay (GK),
23. Donald Kamara (GK)
18. Daniel J.T. Francis
17. Lamin Conteh
3. Kevin Wright
12. Ibrahim Sillah
20. Saidu B. Kamara
13. Kallum X.T. Cesay
11. Sulaiman B. Kaikai
Coach: John Keister (Sierra Leone)
By James Agberebi
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