Hosts Benin pipped CHAN Eagles courtesy of a late penalty goal in a final playoff for next year’s CHAN in Kenya.
Benin skipper Mama Seibou converted a penalty in the 88th minute after Afeez Aremu needlessly fouled inside his box.
The return leg will be played next weekend in Kano with the overall winners advancing to Kenya 2018.
Benin dominated the first half as they overran the CHAN Eagles in the middle of the park, but they could not translate such dominance into goals.
The Eagles struggled on a very terrible pitch, but it was no excuse for the loss.
Nigeria showed a lot more after the interval as they brought on NPFL hotshot Stephen Odey for Thomas Zenke and Alhassan Ibrahim replaced Rabiu Ali before the hour mark.
The MFM combination of Sikiru Olatunbosun and Odey began to cause the home team trouble.
Olatunbosun came close to giving Nigeria the lead in the 65th minute.
Ezenwa did well to save a low shot in the 84th minute as the hosts continued to pour forward in search of a goal.
However, with just minutes to full time, Nigeria’s hesitant defending presented the home team a lifeline via a penalty and they gladly made the most of it to hand them a slight advantage going into the reverse clash.
CHAN Eagles starting XI: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Osas Okoro, Chima Akas, Stephen Eze, Orji Kalu – Afeez Aremu, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi – Thomas Zenke (Stephen Odey 59), Sikiru Olatunbosun, Rabiu Ali (Alhassan Ibrahim ‘Muazzam’ 56) – Kingsley Eduwo (Ifeanyi George 83)
Unused subs: Dele Ajiboye, Nasiru Sani, Emmanuel Ariwachukwu, Samuel Matthias
Coach: Salisu Yusuf