The Super Eagles tonight got off to a winning start at the 2019 AFCON when they pipped gritty Swallows of Burundi 1-0 in Alexandria.
Striker Odion Ighalo was the match winner when he came off the bench to score in the 77th minute against the lowest ranked team at the AFCON.
It was a beautifully worked goal by defender Ola Aina, whose stylish back heel set up the China-based striker to hit the back of the net with ice coolness.
But before then, debutants Burundi stretched their more illustrious opponents with goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi forced to make the biggest save of the night as early as the 14th minute.
The Kaizer Chiefs shot stopper had to draw from his wealth of experience to deny Cedric Amisa, who dashed past his marker before he fired at goal.
He will be tested several other times and was even shaky just moments after Nigeria had finally broken the deadlock, but somehow the Eagles cleared their lines.
Samuel Chukwueze was the brightest spark for Nigeria in the first half, but he failed to make the most of a pullback by Alex Iwobi early in the first half.
Nigeria enjoyed the ball possession, but for most part they did not really hurt the Swallows.
The introduction of Ighalo and Ahmed Musa brought more urgency to the Eagles attack after the break and it will be former Watford striker Ighalo who would finally make the big difference when it mattered most.
Overall, it was a laboured performance by three-time African champions Nigeria, who will be expected to face an even sterner test when they tackle Guinea in their next Group B match on Wednesday afternoon.