Nigeria began their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign began with a 2-0 win over Chad in Kaduna on Saturday.
It was not the most convincing performance from the Super Eagles, who are looking to return to the continental championship after missing this year’s finals in Equatorial Guinea, and they even finished the match with 10 men.
Nigeria took some time to find their rhythm and put in an underwhelming performance in the first half of the opening Group G fixture.
The Super Eagles almost claimed the lead just over 10 minutes before the half-time break when Gbolahan Salami was presented with a chance at close range, but the Chad goalkeeper Mbaramadji made a superb save to keep his side on level terms.
The home side continued their lacklustre play in the second half, but finally broke the deadlock just past the hour mark though Salami. The in-form striker was finally able to find a way past Mbaramadji after some inspired build-up play.
With 12 minutes to play, Nigeria were awarded a penalty when Odian Ighalo was pulled down in the box. In the wake of the incident, Ogyeni Onazi was guilty of a brainless off-the-ball push and was deservedly red carded.
The 10-man Super Eagles doubled their advantage when Ighalo converted the spot kick, and they were able to see out the remainder of the game to confirm a winning start to the qualifiers.
The other Group G match sees Egypt host Tanzania in Alexandria on Sunday.