Nigeria 2-1 Sierra Leone summary: score, goals, highlights, AFCON qualification
Nigeria-Sierra Leone: AFCON qualification - live
Nigeria-Sierra Leone: Headlines
- Napoli's Osimhen pokes Nigeria ahead just before the interval
- Sierra Leone take the lead through Morsay only for Iwobi to draw level five minutes later
- Both nations embark on AFCON 2023 qualification
- Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome & Principe other group A sides
- Last two meetings between Super Eagles and Lone Stars ended 4-4 and 0-0
The whistle sounds and Nigeria claim all three points thanks to two first half goals from Iwobi and Osimhen with Sierra Leone taking a surprise lead in the 11th minute.
Nigeria dominated the second half but had to endure a nervy ending with the ghosts of the 4-4 draw against the Lone Stars present.
Corner for the Lone Stars with the clock ticking down. A major let-off as Bakayoko fails to connect with the ball and that could be it for the visitors.
Moffi replaces Osimhen
3 minutes to be added
Last minute of the game ...Sierra Leone with all the urgency now
Osimhen is back on the pitch but looks somewhat uncomfortable running
Sierra Leone with a last push as they sense that a point could be theirs as Osimhen needs medical attention ... Seems to be an issue with the striker's hamstring
Uzoho is carded for time wasting with nerves now starting to show with just the single goal the difference between both sides.
Last five minutes as Sierra Leone probe looking for an equaliser in Abuja
Three changes for Nigeria:
Subs: Chukwueze out Lookman on
Ekong out Omeruo on
Aina out Shehu on
The Watford player is stretchered from the park and this is always a sad sight ... Difficult to see the Nigeria captain being ready for the next contest on the 13th.
Ekong seems to have pulled a muscle as the Watford man needs to be swapped and appears to have sustained a groin issue.
Another switch for Sierra Leone as Bundu is on for Kamara... Attacker for a midfielder...
Time running out for the visitors and the second half really has been one way traffic with the Super Eagles dominating the game.
Another card and this time it's Nigeria's Aina who sees yellow.
Bassey sends over a teasing ball and Osimhen rises well but just fails to secure accuracy on his header.
It's all Nigeria now but they still hold that one goal slender margin.
Kargbo on for Sierre Leone with Kamara the man making way
Sierra Leone stretched as Simon, Bassey and Iwobi work well together but there is no white shirt in the box when the ball comes over.
Koroma is the latest player to be carded as he clips Etebo.
The ball is tipped to Ekong but the Watford man gets over the ball and no danger for Kamara in the Sierra Leone goal.
Simon does well but his clipped by Sesay on his way to the box.... Danger for the visitors as Nigeria are awarded a free... Etebo over the ball...
Osimhen swivels and shoots with the Nigeria man winning a corner. The ball bobbles in the Sierra Leone box and is cleared off the line.
Less than 30 minutes remain in Abuja and just a sense that the visitors have managed to claw their way back into contention. Bakayoko does look lively for Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone go close as Bakayoko almost steers the ball home but it goes agonisingly into the side netting
Bakayoko on for goal scorer Morsay (S.Leone switch)
Gano scores for Guinea-Bissau to put the home side 2-1 ahead in their Group A contest vs. Sao Tome & Principe alos being played at the same time
Nigeria also looking like a team with their confidence levels restored with Chukwueze slotting the ball inches wide when he really should have hit the target. A let-off for the visiting side.
Decent shot from Chukwueze as the Villarreal man pulls the ball wide.
The second Nigeria does seem to have taken the sense of belief away from Sierra Leone as the side in blue playing with a reduced level of confidence.
The home side dominate possession now as Etebo is carded for pulling back an opposition player.
We're off and running as Nigeria start the action
Change for Nigera as Etebo replaces Sadiq who may have picked up a knock towards the end of the half
The players return to the pitch with the restart just moments away.
As things stand at the interval, Nigeria would top Group A tonight with their 2-1 lead. Guinea-Bissau v Sao Tome & Principe is 1-1 at half time.
Should have been 3-1 as the whistle sounds for the break. Sadiq crosses and the Sierra Leone defender makes a mess but at the second time of asking, the keeper gathers.
Just the one minute of added time
A minute of normal time left here in Abuja.
Nigeria on a roll now and won't want the half time whistle to sound.
Fine team goal as Simon nods down the cross and the Napoli man was there, stretching to put Nigeria ahead
Osimhen in predatory fashion pounces to put Nigeria ahead...
Five minutes remain here in Abuja and it remains 1-1 with a decent last five minutes from the men in blue.
Bassey fouls and the visitors win a dangerous free as Iwobi clears for a corner and more pressure heaped on the home side.
Sierra Leone appeal for a penalty as the ball bounces and seems to clip a Super Eagle defender on the hand....A poor shot and the move breaks down. Nigeria are in control but the visitors are very much in this contest.
Fine knock from Osimhen looking for Sadiq but the Sierra Leone keeper is alert and gathers.
Kamara carded for scything down Samuel Chukwueze
A clear pattern developing now as Sierra Leone sit deep and invite pressure from the men in green and white as the Lone Stars look to surprise the home side on the break.
The game now lacking any flow being peppered with tetchy fouls as Nigeria have overcome the shock of going behind .... Osimhen, Chukwueze and Sadiq now starting to see more of the ball.
In the other Group A game, Sao Tome and Principe have taken a shock lead against Guinea-Bissau ... 0-1 there after 24 minutes.
After a tentative start, the game really has come alive with two goals in the space of five minutes. For a side ranked 108th in the world, Sierra Leone are a fine side... well organised and with skillful players in the ranks.
Play held up as Kamara in the Sierra Leone goal has taken a knock ... attended to by the medical team and seems okay to carry on.
The Everton man with a clam finish slotting home right footed
Alex Iwobi drills the ball home and Nigeria are level
What a turn up for the books and not the ideal start for José Peseiro would have predicted as Sierra Leone go close again and the keeper palms the ball onto the post.
A wonderful move and finish from the visitors as Musa's cross finds Morsay who dives to head home...what a start for the Lone Stars !
Chances for both teams in a bright start to the action here in Abuja.
Great chance for Osimhen as he heads just wide following an excellent delivers from the left hand side. A left off there for Sierra Leone.
Nerves for the home side as Sierra Leone win two consecutive corners as Nigeria are forced to defend in numbers. The ball bobbling over the surface here in Abuja.
Turay strikes for the visitors following a fine counter and Uzoho is forced to save well.
Nervy start from both sides with neither team able to stamp any early authority on proceedings so far.
Sun just breaking through the clouds and the pitch looking a little bare in places. Sierra Leone playing in all blue.
All set in Abuja, the Ivorian ref signals the start of the game and off we go.... Sierra Leone start the action...
An eerie atmosphere at the Abuja National Stadium with no fans present. A throwback to recent Covid times ...
The player are on the pitch and it's national anthem time, first up that of Sierra Leone.... next up" Arise, O Compatriots" (Nigeria).
Nigeria-Sierra Leone: match officials
Ivory Coast match officials will take charge of Thursday’s encounter in Abuja, with Ibrahim Kalilou Traore as referee.
His compatriots, Adou Desire N’goh, Nouhou Ouattara and Kouassi Francois Biro will serve as assistant referee 1, assistant referee 2 and fourth official respectively.
Nigeria-Sierra Leone: matchday weather
It's a hot and muggy but weath day in Abuja with a current temperature of 31C/88F with rain forecast during the match.
New dugouts for the Abuja National Stadium
Following the fan violence after the Ghana game, the NFF have invested in new dugouts for the national stadium.
Nigeria to sport iconic white and green home kit for this evening's game against Sierra Leone in Abuja.
There will be no fans present tonight at the National Stadium in Abuja and this followed unsavoury scenes at the end of the second leg of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers back in March when the Black Stars eliminated the Super Eagles, ending dreams of a place in Qatar.
After today's Group A opener, Nigeria will then face Sao Tome & Principe away on 13 June with Sierra Leone set to face Guine-Bissau on the same day.
Both Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau are the favoured sides to advance from the group.
Now retired from the international game and playing his club football in Finland, Kei Kamara also sent a message of support for his Lone Stars ahead of the match.
Kanu sends greetings to Super Eagles
The former Arsenal, Inter and West Brom (and former Super Eagles too) player sent a message of support to the Nigerian national side as the embart of the qualification process for a place at the 2023 AFCON which will be staged in Ivory Coast next year.
Nigeria XI announced
Jose Peseiro's first team sheet for a competitive match sees a strong emphasis on attack with Osimhen, Chukwueze and Sadq all starting. Good to see the Almeria striker get a break and confident he'll do good things for Nigeria today.
Relive the spectacular Sierra Leone come when both sides last met in Abuja during the group stage qualifying process for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Today's game on paper (at least) is something of a mismatch with the Super Eagles ranked at 36 on the last FIFA ranking and the Lone Stars down at 108th place.
Lone Stars XI confirmed
Lone Stars manager John Keister confirms his starting lineup for Thursday's Abuja clash against the highly fancied Super Eagles.
Nigeria and Sierra Leone are familiar faces with both teams facing one another in the recent Qatar 2022 qualification process with both games ending in draws, a 0-0 draw in Freetown was preceded by an incredible 4-4 draw in Abuja that ranks as one of the highlights in the history books of Sierra Leone’s limited successes.
Peseiro: 'All the history and greatness of the nation serve as inspiration'
Jose Peseiro's rally call ahead of Sierra Leone clash.
Other Group A opponents, Guinea Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe kick off at the same time and we'll bring you goal flashes from that game too during tonight's NGA-SLO coverage.
The Super Eagles come into tonight's game in the back of two friendly games with defeats to World Cup bound Mexico and Ecuador but tonight's match will be new manager Peseiro's first competitive test.
José Peseiro will be looking to make a winning start in his first competitive game on the ‘Super Eagles’ bench in this first Group A game in Abuja that will be played behind closed doors as a result of the disturbances that unfolded after the late March World Cup play-off.
The journey for the four nations that compose Group A in the 2023 AFCON qualification phase starts on Thursday night with two from: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe and Guinea-Bissau set to advance to the tournament in Ivory Coast in June 2023.
The ‘Super Eagles’ will be anxious to redeem themselves with a disappointed nation after the World Cup elimination at the hands of West African rivals Ghana with the ‘Black Stars’ advancing to Qatar 2022 after winning the home-away two legged play-off last March.
The action in Abuja gets underway at 17:00 (local time) / 12:00 pm (ET) or 18:00 CEST.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of matchday 1 in Group A of the 2023 AFCON qualifying process as Nigeria face Sierra Leone.