Nigeria’s Super Eagles began their 2016 African Nations Championship (Chan) campaign on a commanding note with Chisom Chikatara scoring a treble in their 4-1 win over Niger Republic on Monday.
Osas Okoro scored the other goal for Nigeria while Zakari Adebayor’s strike was too little to influence matters for the Nigeriens.
Nigeria head coach Sunday Oliseh started a team that had a combined 47 goals in the country’s top-flight last season with goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and 3SC defender Jamiu Alimi, being the only two players who failed to score last term.
The coach of the Nigeriens, Francois Zahoui, named five players from AS GNN and opted to play a five-man defence.
Inside the opening minutes, the Nigerians were the livelier as Prince Aggreh turned and shot but his effort was effortlessly saved by Niger goalkeeper Moussa Alzouma.
Fourteen minutes into the game, the Sunshine Stars duo of Aggreh and Tunde Adeniji combined well to pick out Okoro but the Enugu Rangers man could only scoop his effort wide.
Aggreh also had a good spell on the right side of Niger’s defence but his cross into the final third let him down on a couple of occasions.
The Nigeriens then played a high line in defence in a period of five minutes in which the trio of Adeniji, Aggreh and Okoro were ruled offside by the match referee.
Nigeria had one chance to take the lead just before the break, but none of their strikers was in the six-yard box to connect Matthew Etim’s cross from the right channel.
If the first half was dour, the second started with a flurry of activity and within 30 seconds Okoro gave Nigeria the lead.
Adeniji held off his marker well before squaring the ball into the Niger box for Okoro to side-foot past Alzouma in Les Mena’s goal.
Abia Warriors striker Chisom Chikatara came off the bench to score a brace of goals with the first being a chest-control-and-finish into the top corner in the 74th minute.
Niger substitute Adebayor then pulled off a cracking finish to give his side a fighting chance on 80 minutes.
However, Chikatara had other ideas as he turned up at the other end in 40 seconds to score Nigeria’s third of the game to kill off any attempt by the Nigeriens to make the last 10 minutes of the match nervy for his team.
The Abia Warrior then put the icing on the cake in added time with a hat-trick to help Nigeria to a 4-1 win after a handful of misses in the last five minutes.