ALEXANDRIA – Odion Ighalo came off the bench to score the goal that gave former champions Nigeria a 1-0 victory over stubborn minnows Burundi on Saturday in the opening Africa Cup of Nations Group B match.
The Shanghai Shenhua forward had been on the pitch only four minutes in Egyptian Mediterranean city Alexandria when he struck the 77th-minute winner.
It was an unconvincing performance from the three-time trophy-holders, who lacked attacking sharpness against well-organised opponents.
Bookmakers have made Nigeria fourth-favourites at 9/1 to win the competition, behind hosts and record seven-time champions Egypt, Senegal and Ghana.
Debutants Burundi battled bravely throughout before a small crowd that included four-time African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto’o from Cameroon, one of the tournament ambassadors.