Nigeria started the campaign for the 2018 World Cup ticket on a promising note as the Super Eagles defeated the Chipolopolo of Zambia 2-1 in Ndola yesterday in their Group B game.
Goals from Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho saw Nigeria pick the three point at stake in a pulsating match.
It was s marvelous team performance by the Eagles, the first win in a competitive away match since November 2014, when goals by Ikechukwu Uche and Aaron Samuel earned Nigeria a 2-1 win over Congo in Pointe Noire, in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Iwobi scored Nigeria’s first goal after 32 minutes as he volleyed the ball into the opponents net. Iheanacho made increased the tally three minutes before the break to hand Nigeria a comfortable lead at half-time.
The Chipolopolo resumed play smoking as they took control of the game, forcing the Super Eagles to their half.
Nigeria goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme made some breathtaking saves that denied the hosts early goals in the second half.
Zambia created a number of chances to pull one back and Collins Mbesuma eventually reduced the deficit with 19 minutes left on the clock, but they were unable to level the scoring as the visitors emerged victorious in the Group B opener.
Both sides threatened in the opening stages, but Nigeria went a goal up just past the half-hour mark when Chama dealt poorly with a long throw-in from Onyinye Ndidi.
He headed straight at Iwobi and the Arsenal youngster volleyed past goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, who managed to get a hand to the ball but could not prevent it from crossing the line.
Rainford Kalaba should perhaps have levelled the scoring following a fine cross from the right from Tembo, but shot stopper Ikeme pulled off a superb save to keep out the Zambia forward’s powerful header.
And Zambia were made to pay three minutes before half-time when Iheanacho doubled Nigeria’s lead after a fine attack. Brown Ideye set up the Manchester City striker inside the area and he rounded Mweene before evading a Zambian defender’s late challenge before tapping home from close range.
Mikel Obi nearly made it three after the break with a spectacular volley from the edge of the area, with Mweene only just managing to tip it over the crossbar.
At the other end, Kalaba continued to cause the Nigeria defence all kinds of trouble and he came close to pulling one back after some unconvincing defending from Ndidi, only for Ikeme to come to the rescue once more for the away side.
Zambia scored the goal they deserved when Mbesuma made the most of a Kenneth Omeruo howler, firing a low shot past Ikeme on the turn.
This is Franco-German Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr’s second win in charge of the Super Eagles since his appointment in August.