Nigeria now have a tightrope to tread in the 2018 Championships of Africa Nations qualifiers after losing1-0 against West African neighbours Benin in the first leg at Stade de l’Amitié in Cotonou on Sunday.
Benin are seeking a first time appearance in the tournament, which began in 2009 in Ivory Coast.
Akwa United midfielder Hafiz Aremu’s 88th minute blunder helped the Squirrels gain a slim advantage ahead of the reverse fixture at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano on Saturday.
Aremu hacked down Benin attacker Mama Seibou after a mix-up caused by a lack of communication with IfeanyiUbah defender Stephen Eze. Seibou went on to beat the Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa from the spot.
Nigeria assistant coach Salisu Yusuf, who is in charge of the team, played Lobi Stars Eduwo as the lone striker, allowing the hosts to dominate possession.
The Eagles soaked up the pressure for 45 minutes, with Yusuf introducing Nigeria Professional Football League top scorer Stephen Odey and Akwa United’s Al-Hassan Ibrahim in the second half in an attempt to hit the opponents on the counter-attack.
Nigeria’s best outing in the tournament for players plying their trade in their countries, was a third-place finish at South Africa 2014.
In other CHAN qualifiers, Egypt battled to a 1-1 draw with Morocco in Alexandria while Niger shocked Ivory Coast 2-1 in Niamey.
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CHAN qualifiers: Eagles walk a tightrope