Nigeria were a touch underwhelming when edging out Burundi in their Africa Cup of Nations opener but will hopefully improve for that victory when taking on Guinea.
Their opponents could only earn a share of the spoils versus Madagascar first up and looked nervous at times during that 2-2 stalemate.
Nigeria arrived in Egypt as third favourites to go all the way on the back of an encouraging effort at the World Cup and a smooth qualifying campaign.
They were almost caught cold by AFCON debutants Burundi, who were the better side in the first half, with Frederic Nsabiyumva hitting the crossbar.
However, ex-Watford striker Odion Ighalo scored within five minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute to help set up a 1-0 success for the Super Eagles.
He latched onto former Chelsea academy graduate Ola Aina’s clever, defence-splitting backheel to bend a shot around goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana and inside the far post.
Nigeria, making their first appearance since winning the trophy in 2013, having missed the last two editions, will need to improve on that showing.
The three-time champions started with Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi of Arsenal, former Chelsea star John Obi Mikel and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze in midfield, though, and that gives them a great platform to control play.
If Ighalo and Ahmed Musa can inject some creative flair up front, this remains a strong outfit.
Guinea needed a Francois Kamano penalty to salvage a point from their Group B opener against Madagascar.
Kamano struck from the spot after Anicet Andrianantenaina and Carolus Andriamatsinoro goals early in the second half had threatened an upset.
Sory Kaba had opened the scoring for Guinea, who saw Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita come off the bench following the injury which kept him out of the Champions League final earlier this month.
Head coach Paul Put is hoping key man Keita will be able to start this game, but the feeling is that the £52million signing from RB Leipzig has been urged to look after himself.
Reflecting on the first match, Put said: “For Naby, it was not my decision to have him on the bench. It was his decision, it was his doctor’s decision, it was Liverpool’s decision – and we have to respect it.”
Those around Keita lack star quality, so it is crucial to get him back fully fit and totally committed.
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