Abuja – Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho on Friday opened his senior international goalscoring account in just his third appearance to give the Super Eagles a 1-0 win over Mali.
Nigeria ended a run of four games without a win in the victory through a 77th minute goal in the friendly international played in Rouen, Mali.
The Super Eagles had failed to win since beating Niger 4-1 in January and they were kept frustrated for much of the game by the side coached by Alain Giresse.
The Eagles showed they were missing a number of key first-team players for the game, with Victor Moses having asked to be left out due to fitness worries.
Team captain Mikel Obi also joined Ahmed Musa for former defender Joseph Yobo’s testimonial match in Port Harcourt.
That lack of extra quality told in a match short on excitement throughout, with Watford striker Odion Ighalo missing perhaps the best chance.
Musa Muhammed, making his Nigeria debut at 19, came close to breaking the deadlock in a first half low on quality, with Ighalo spurning the only other presentable scoring chance.
Another bright run from Muhamed shortly before the hour mark saw Mali’s defence carved apart, but his low cross was hacked clear and the threat once more came to nothing.
Coach Salisu Yusuf then introduced Iheanacho for Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi in a bid to add some spark to proceedings, and the Manchester City man did just what was expected.
He scored from close range after Michael Babatunde found him in space in the area.
Iheanacho later saw a late effort blocked, but Nigeria held on for a morale-boosting victory ahead of facing Luxembourg for a friendly match on Tuesday.(NAN)