The Nigeria U23 team suffered a 1-0 defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in their opening Group B tie at the U23 Africa Cup of Nations taking place in Egypt.
The West African derby saw a lot of missed chances in the first half with both sides unable to find the back of the net after 45 minutes.
Cup holders – Nigeria – failed to take advantage of the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo – the same venue where the Super Eagles picked up the bronze medal of the 2019 AFCON after pipping Tunisia 1-0 in July.
A defensive error midway into the second half changed the narrative of the game and Nigeria went down by the goal that eventually earned Ivory Coast three points.
Nigerian defender, Olisa Ndah, was sent off in the 70th minute for simulation inside the danger area after which Silas Gnaka nicely converted the penalty in the 71st minute.
With just 13 shots and two on target, coach Imama Amapakabo and his players were left licking their wounds at the end of regulation time.
Defending champions Nigeria will now need to defeat Zambia and South Africa to stand a good chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Lately, Nigeria’s age-grade teams are failing to live up to the expectations with the Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles both recording disappointing outings at the U17 and U20 World Cups respectively.
Nigerian starting lineup vs Ivory Coast
Adamu Abubakar (GK), Godfrey Stephen Bitok, Izuchukwu Anthony, Olisa Harold Ndah, Sincere Seth, Adam Aliyu, Kelechi Nwakali (C), Ndifreke Effiong Udo, Blessing Olabiran Muyiwa, Orji Okwonkwo, Bright Enobakhare