Widemen Musa and Kalu – on his international debut – dazzled as the Super Eagles picked up their first points in the qualifying campaign
Nigeria got their 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign back on track after condemning Seychelles to a defeat at Stade Linite on Saturday.
Goals from Ahmed Musa, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Ighalo saw the Super Eagles pick up their first win of the qualifiers, with debutant Samuel Kalu causing havoc to the Pirates defence.
Musa and Awaziem handed the visitors a two-goal advantage in the first-half and Ighalo added the third from the spot after one of Kalu’s numerous teasing runs was halted in the box.
The buildup to the game had seen Gernot Rohr deal with several disappointments with team captain John Obi Mikel and some key players ruled out through several injury concerns.
The German handler had to make four changes to the team that started against Argentina in their last outing, at the World Cup.
Awaziem came in as a surprise pick for the right-back spot, Ogenyi Onazi partnered Wilfred Ndidi at the base of the midfield, Bordeaux new signing Kalu handed his international debut and Ighalo was restored to lead the lines.
From the blast of the whistle, the Super Eagles, expectedly, directed proceedings with the East African minnows sat deep in blocks.
Much of the visitors’ threats came from the wings as stand-in skipper Musa and Kalu’s quick feet and directness caused troubles for Gavin Jeanne’s men.
In the 15th minute, Nigeria’s dominance paid off through Musa who let fly with a wicked left-footed volley, with goalkeeper Dave Mussard’s back burying the audacious effort.
Before the interval, Awaziem doubled the lead beating Mussard from a rebound after a clever Iheanacho free-kick hit the foot of the crossbar.
The Seychellois tried to distort the flow of the game with some ambitious attacking forays after the restart, but Rohr’s men retook dominance and they got a third from the penalty spot.
Ighalo sent the stocky shot-stopper the wrong way after livewire Kalu was upended in the area.
Jeanne’s men caused a few nervy moments for the three-time African champions’ backline and Musa came close to getting a second with his effort in the 72nd minute missing the target by whiskers.
Rohr suffered yet another blow as Awaziem was stretched off injured, however, it allowed Rotherham United defender Semi Ajayi make his international bow.
There was also time for Henry Onyekuru who came on in place of lively Kalu with few minutes to go as the Super Eagles mounted pressure on the hosts to see out the final minutes of the game.
As it stands, Nigeria are second in Group E with three points and the final standings for Round Two games would be decided after the conclusion of the other group game between South Africa and table-topper Libya.