The Super Eagles of Nigeria kicked off their Russia 2018 World Cup Qualification campaign with a win against Zambia in Ndola.
Sunday’s win was Nigeria’s first ever in Zambia and the Chipolopolo have not lost a game at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium before the match.
The duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi plying their trade with Manchester City and Arsenal respectively were the heroes on the afternoon that saw a pulsating match with chances created from both ends.
Nigeria had to fight off a late scare to secure all three points as the Zambians fought back to equalise but could only manage to pull a goal back with 20 minutes left on the clock.
The Zambian President Edgar Lungu watched from the stands as the Eagles tore apart his country’s defense in the first half with precise final passes and slick ball play.
Iwobi put Nigeria in front in the 32nd minute after series of chances created by the Nigerian attack but none could beat the goalkeeper Nweene. The Arsenal player received the ball after a long throw in into the box was poorly cleared by a Zambian defender, and he fired home with his right foot with a bicycle kick.
10 minutes later, Iheanacho doubled the lead after dazzling into the box with a solo run and rounded the keeper before slotting into an empty net.
The second half began with Zambia throwing everything they had at Nigeria but it was not to pay off until the 70th minute after Collins Mbesuma benefited from a blunder by defender Kenneth Omeruo and found the back of the net to the delight of the fans in the packed stadium.
Goalkeeper Carl Ikeme was in form between the sticks for the Super Eagles denying the Zambians a chance to draw level.
STARTING LINE UP:
Zambia: Kennedy Mweene, Kabaso Chongo, Stopilla Sunzu, Adrian Chama (Kondwani Mtongo 48), Fackson Kapumbu – Nathan Sinkala, Fwayo Tembo (Roger Kola 81), Chisamba Lungu, Rainford Kalaba (skipper) – Collins Mbesuma, Winston Kalengo (Jackson Mwanza 56)
Nigeria: Carl Ikeme – Wilfred Ndidi, Elderson Echiejile, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong – Ogenyi Onazi (Shehu Abdullahi 90+2), Mikel Obi (captain) – Moses Simon (Ahmed Musa 83), Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho – Brown Ideye (Anderson Esiti 73)