Stand-in captain Ahmed Musa led the Super Eagles to record their first win of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Cup qualifiers after defeating Seychelles 3-0 in their Group E clash in Victoria on Saturday.
Goals from Musa, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Ighalo gave the Gernot Rohr’s men a comfortable win in the encounter.
The win puts the Eagles in third position with three points in the group following a goalless draw between table toppers Libya and second placed South Africa, who both have four points, in Durban on Saturday.
The win was the first for the Eagles in two years away from home. Their last away win was against Zambia in Ndola in a Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier in October 2016.
With several team regulars, including captain Mikel Obi out due to injuries, Rohr handed a debut to Bordeaux forward Samuel Kalu while Francis Uzoho started in goal with Bryan Idowu, Chidozie Awaziem, Kenneth Omeruo and Leon Balogun in the defence. Wilfred Ndidi and Ogenyi Onazi were in the midfield while Musa, Kalu, Kelechi Iheanacho and Odion Ighalo were in the attack.
Nigeria, who struggled on the artificial pitch, dominated the match from the start pegging the hosts back at Stade Linte. The Eagles were aggressive in the attack with Kalu and Musa constantly troubling the hosts and forcing them to defend in numbers.
The hosts packed their defence in the first half and soaked the pressure piled by Nigeria until the deadlock was broken after 15 minutes. Musa fired home a thunderous strike from the edge of the box which beat Jerome Longueuil in goal for Seychelles.
The Eagles doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Awaziem finished off a rebound after Iheanacho’s free kick bounced off the upright. Ighalo fluffed a chance to make it 3-0 three minutes later – after he beat the offside trap by the Seychelles defenders, his lob over the goalkeeper came off the crossbar.
At the start of the second half, the Eagles continued piling pressure on the hosts and were rewarded with a goal three minutes before the hour mark. Kalu was brought down in the box and the resultant spot kick was converted by Ighalo, for his fifth Nigeria goal and to end his nine-game goal drought for the Eagles.
The China-based striker missed another chance several minutes later after he failed to shoot clearly on target.
Rohr brought on Oghenekaro Etebo for Iheanacho, Semi Ajayi for Awaziem, who was injured, and Henry Onyekuru for Kalu but neither of them could add to the tally.
The Eagles host Libya in their next match in October while Seychelles travel to South Africa.