Nigeria began their group campaign in Africa’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers with a 2-1 victory away to Zambia in Group B in Ndola on Sunday.
Both of Nigeria’s goals came in the first half of the match from two of the English Premier League’s rising stars.
Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi put the Super Eagles ahead in the 32nd minute.
Ten minutes later, Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho added to the scoreline to put Gernot Rohr’s Nigeria 2-0 up.
In a fast-paced match with chances at both ends, Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi almost gave his side an unassailable 3-0 lead in the second half, only to see his long-range volley tipped over the bar by Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Zambia pushed for a reply and were rewarded in the 71st minute when Collins Mbesuma grabbed one back.
Despite much pressure from the home team, Nigeria held on to record an away win to go top of their group – one of the toughest in World Cup qualifying.
The other two teams in Group B, Algeria and Cameroon, face each other in Blida later on Sunday night.
All four teams are previous African champions.
Also on Sunday, Congo Brazzaville were hosting Egypt in Group E, following Ghana’s 0-0 draw at home to Uganda on Friday, and Tunisia were scheduled to play Guinea in Group A in Monastir.
On Saturday, there were opening group wins for Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal.
Only the five group winners will qualify for Russia 2018 from Africa.
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