Burundi’s Africa Cup of Nations debut ended in a 1-0 defeat despite an encouraging display against an underwhelming Nigeria in Group B.
The minnows, ranked 134th in the world, were the better side in the first half, with Frederic Nsabiyumva hitting the crossbar.
However, their dream start was spoiled by former Watford striker Odion Ighalo, who scored within five minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute.
The Super Eagles, making their first appearance since winning the trophy in 2013 having missed the last two editions, came into the tournament as joint-third favourites but their performance did not suggest that.
Despite starting with Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze, the three-time winners struggled to impose themselves on their underdog opponents.
Burundi showed all the promise which had seen them come through their qualifying group as unbeaten runners-up, but they just could not make the breakthrough when on top.
Ighalo, Nigeria’s leading scorer in qualifying, came on in the 73rd minute and converted the best move of the match.
He latched on to the London-born former Chelsea academy graduate Ola Aina’s clever defence-splitting backheel to bend a shot around goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana and inside the far post
Underdogs Uganda sprang a surprise at the Africa Cup of Nations with a convincing 2-0 victory over a disappointing DR Congo side in Group A.
Patrick Kaddu’s flicked near-post header opened the scoring in the 14th minute and Uganda should have extended their lead before half-time with Emmanuel Okwi wasting a free header of his own.
Everton winger Yannick Bolasie nodded a corner wide before the break but DR Congo’s problems worsened when Okwi did find the target shortly after the restart with a glancing, looping header across Ley Matampi into the far corner.
Substitute Jonathan Bolingi hit the crossbar as Congo tried to find a response but they produced little in the way of a threat in the final 20 minutes.
Uganda’s victory lifted them above hosts Egypt into first place in Group A on goal difference.
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