The Super Eagles on Monday advanced to the group stage of the Ghana 2017 WAFU Cup courtesy of a 2-0 win over hard-fighting Sierra Leone in a play-off tie in Cape Coast.
The Eagles play hosts Ghana on Thursday in Group A, which also has Mali and Guinea.
Enterprising Enugu Rangers midfielder Osas Okoro crashed home an 84th minute free-kick to break the resistance of their West African rivals, before Peter Eneji sealed a hard-fought victory with a minute left on the clock to leave the Sierra Leoneans devastated.
The Nigerians only arrived in Ghana on Sunday, after they were given time off by the West African Football Union for the completion of their domestic league.
And the Leone Stars took advantage, as they dominated early proceedings but impressive goalkeeper and captain Ikechukwu Ezenwa kept them in the game.
The IfeanyiUbah shot stopper saved a goal-bound shot by Mahmoud Fofanah after 15 minutes, and then stopped the striker again in the 32nd minute.
Nigeria got their rhythm midway into the second half and their dominance saw Chima Akas’ shot hitting the sidenetting.
The Sierra Leone goalkeeper then did well to push out a shot by Rabiu Ali in the 79th minute, just after Ezenwa had denied Leone Stars the opening goal.