Samuel Kalu scored the winner in the 62nd minute as Nigeria’s Super Eagles came from a goal down to beat Benin 2-1 in their Total Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 Group L qualifying opening match at the at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Wednesday.
Les Écureuils had gone ahead early in the third minute of the game after experienced forward Stephane Sessegnon scored from close range after capitalizing on some defensive lapse in the Super Eagles backline.
It was a dream start for the Beninese but they couldn’t hold on till the break as on-form Victor Osimhen drew the home side level from the penalty spot at the stroke of halftime after Ola Aina was fouled inside the box.
Back on level terms, Nigeria came off the break with renewed confidence and they went into the lead just 17 minutes after the restart when Kalu dribbled his way into the area before finishing off neatly inside the box.
Driven by their home fans, Nigeria kept prodding the Benin half, but couldn’t seal the game further.
Nonetheless, they took to the top of the group after match day one as Sierra Leone and Lesotho played to a 1-1 draw in Freetown.
Lesotho came from a goal down as Jane Thabantso scored the equalizer in the third minute of added time to hand Likuena a draw away from home.
Kwame Quee had given the Leone Stars a 1-0 lead after 72 minutes. Both teams had to finish the match with 10 men after Sierra Leone’s John Kamara and Lesotho’s Basia Makepe were sent off with six minutes left.
The group is expected to take shape on Sunday when Benin hosts Sierra Leone while Nigeria’s Super Eagles travel to Maseru to take on Lesotho.