Second-half substitute Chisom Chikatara smashed home a hat-trick as the Home-based Super Eagles defeated Niger 4-1 in their opening CHAN 2016 fixture in Rwanda.
The first group C game between Tunisia and Guinea finished in a 2-2 draw, meaning both teams split the points with Nigeria ahead of the rest on three points.
After a scoreless first half, Nigeria went ahead just seconds after the restart when striker Tunde Adeniji floated a cross from the left for Osas Okoro to put Nigeria ahead.
Ten minutes later, Abia Warrior’s star Chisom Chikatara came on for Tunde Adeniji and turned the game on its head with great interplay between him, Osas and Aggreh. He was to be rewarded on 74 minutes when he got the Eagles’ second goal.
However, Niger pulled a goal back through substitute Zakaria Adebayor in the 81st minute, when his thunderbolt from distance gave Nigeria goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa no chance.
Almost immediately, Nigeria responded with a second goal for Chikatara off another assist by Okoro and the youngster completed his hat-trick in stoppage time, finishing off a through ball from Prince Aggreh.
Nigeria faces 2011 Champions, the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia next on Friday 22 January.