Victor Osimhen spared Nigeria blushes as his 41st minute with the winning goal, off an assist by Moses Simon. It was Nigeria’s first qualifier for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Dinamo Bucureşti midfielder Jonathan Morsay had shocked the crew in the closed stadium and fans watching via TV when he struck in the 11th through Musa Kamara’s support. That was Morsay’s first goal for his national team, and it sent jitters to Nigerians, who were yet to recover from the early exit at the last AFCON and the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification.
But the anxiety lasted only five minutes. Again it was Simon, the Nantes attacker, who gave the pass to Alex Iwobi to finish and level up for Nigeria.
The second half was all efforts and no result by both sides.
The win was however not enough to give Nigeria early lead in Group A as Guinea-Bissau thrashed São Tomé and Príncipe 5-1 in Agadir, Morocco, the adopted home of the Guineans.
Nigeria travel to Morocco to face São Tomé and Príncipe in Marrakech, Morocco on Monday, while Guinea-Bissau visit Conakry, Guinea to tackle Sierra Leone.
Other Thursday results: Burundi 0-1 Cameroon, South Sudan 1-3 Mali, Guinea 1-0 Malawi, Ethiopia 2-0 Egypt, Lesotho 0-0 Côte d’Ivoire (ongoing), Morocco v South Africa (8 pm), Zimbabwe v Liberia (Zimbabwe disqualified over troubles in their home federation)