Nigeria’s bid to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games football event got off to a disappointing start, following a 1-0 defeat to Ivory Coast in their U23 AFCON group B opener on Saturday.
Silas Gnaka converted from the penalty spot (71st), after Olisa Ndah hacked down an opponent inside the box.
The Referee Mohamed Maarouf pointed to spot and showed the Nigerian center half the red card, in the process, for a second bookable offence.
Ivory Coast thus picked all three points and condemned Nigeria to the, arduous, task of ensuring they win their remaining group games to stand a chance of going through to the next round.
The outcome on Saturday, at the Al Salam Stadium, mirrors Nigeria’s performance at the 2011 tournament, where the Eagles lost by the odd goal to Morocco in their opening game – and failed to progress from the group stage.