Nigeria claimed all three points against Libya and pull their African Nations Championship dream back to life with Sunday Faleye’s late goal.
Faleye stretched to reach a headed knockdown from Osas Okoro’s corner and volley the Super Eagles ahead with just over 10 minutes of play left prompting jubliant celebrations at the Grand Stade de Tanger.
However, where the Super Eagles’ opening-day draw against Rwanda was down to missed opportunities, Friday’s game was more about a lack of them.
Following that surprise draw in their first game, many expected coach Salisu Yusuf to wield the axe.
Instead, he stuck to the same starting lineup, and for the first 45 minutes, it looked like a disastrous decision.
The Nigerians, who almost certainly needed to avoid defeat to stay in contention, created nothing in the opening period, one in which they had zero shots on target compared to Libya’s three.
Precious little changed in the second half until the hour mark, when Salisu hooked static forward Tony Okpotu and threw on Ibrahim Mustapha in his place.
The Enyimba forward immediately sparked the attack to life, running at players, beating them for pace and pulling them every which way with his movement.
It was from one such tireless running that the Super Eagles won the corner that led to the goal.
Osas put in the delivery, the ball was knocked down and Faleye was on hand to despatch it, continuing his encouraging start to this tournament.
The win takes Nigeria top of the group on four points, one ahead of Libya. It also earns them full bonus for their opening day draw, when they were only paid half.
The extra payment was approved on Friday morning by Nigeria Sports Minister Solomon Dalung.
Nigeria now need just a point against Equatorial Guinea in their final Group game to advance to the knockout phase.