Imama Amapakabo, coached one of Nigeria's finest playing sides in recent times

Cup holders Nigeria on Thursday lost by the odd goal to their Sudanese counterparts in a U23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match at the Al Merriekh Stadium in Omdurman.

The home team scored on the dot of 45 minutes as Nigeria’s defence faltered from a counter-attack, although Stephen Odey, Blessing Muyiwa and Taiwo Awoniyi all had chances to put Nigeria on the scoreline even before then.

Odey fluffed gilt-edged opportunities in the 17th and 48th minutes that would have handed Nigeria the advantage.

Instead, the 1996 Olympics men’s football tournament winners must overturn a deficit and then look for the winner when both teams clash in the return and final leg of the qualifying series in Asaba on Tuesday.

The deficit is in no way daunting for Imama Amapakabo’s wards, who in the earlier round, hammered Libya 4-0 at the same Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba after losing 0-2 to the Libyans in the first leg in Tunisia.

Nigeria won the second edition of the U23 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Senegal in December 2015, beating Algeria in the final, and both teams then represented Africa at the Rio 2016 Olympics, where the Olympic Eagles won the bronze medals.

The third edition of the U23 Africa Cup of Nations will be staged by Egypt 8th – 22nd November this year.

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