On Thursday, the Super Eagles fought back from a goal down to defeat visiting Lone Stars of Sierra Leone 2-1 in the Match Day 1 of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification series at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
It will be recalled that the fleet-footed Leone Stars, famously came back from four goals down to tie the match 4-4 in an AFCON qualifier against Nigeria in Benin City in November 2021.
The visitors had stunned the three-time African champions in the 10th minute Jonathan Morsay scored a stunning goal with a diving header from a pin-point pull-out from Alhassan Koroma.
Four minutes later, the guests nearly doubled their lead but Nigeria were spared from going down again when the ball hit the woodwork to the relief of the Super Eagles.
However, in the 16th minute, Nigeria were level when an exchange of passes between Alex Iwobi and Moses Simon ended with the former emphatically finding the far corner of goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara’s post.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, Victor Osimhen scored Nigeria’s second when he drove the ball into the roof of the net from a Simon header off Ola Aina’s cross from the right to give Portuguese coach, Jose Peseiro his first win.
In the second half, the game flowed from one end to the other, but Nigeria should have made it 3-1 in the 58th minute when Iwobi and Osimhen carved open the visitors’ defence, only for Samuel Chukwueze to get too much purchase on his shot and drag it wide.
Aribo, Osimhen and substitute Ademola Lookman all missed chances as Nigeria pushed for another goal, but in added time, it took Aribo’s last-second intervention to deny the Leone Stars.
The Eagles are second in Group A, as they head to Agadir, Morocco for their Day 2 encounter against the ‘The Falcons and True Parrots’of São Tomé and Príncipe on June 13.