By Beng Emmanuel
Ivory Coast scored a 71st minute penalty as defending champions Nigeria lost their group B opener at the ongoing CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Silas Gnaka neatly converted a penalty kick minute after Nigeria’s defender Olisa Harold was sent off with a red card to inspire his team to their first win at the continental football jamboree since making their return.
Ivory Coast participated at the maiden edition in 2011 (Morocco) but missed out from the second edition in 2015 (Senegal).
They were the first to hit upfront but failed to make their possession count which resulted to a goalless first half.
Nigeria battled back and created glaring goal scoring chances which were wasted in quite inglorious fashion.
Ivory Coast took control of the game nineteen minutes from the final wisle through Silas Gnaka spot kick.
Nigeria ended the game with 10-men and were constantly on the alert from an Ivorian offensive threat.
Ivory Coast lead group B after South Africa and Zambia played a goalless draw.
This year’s U-23 Africa Cup of Nations serves as qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The top three nations will represent the continent at the Multi-Sport event.