Underdogs on Saturday had a big day at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt as Uganda won on their return to the tournament after 41 years and Madagascar held Guinea to a draw on their debut.
Burundi, another Africa Cup first-timer, pushed mighty Nigeria all the way.
Uganda beat two-time champions the Democratic Republic of the Congo 2-0 in Cairo to start the second day of action. Both goals came through headers from set-pieces, with Patrick Kaddu scoring from a corner in the 14th minute and Emmanuel Okwi heading in a free-kick early in the second half.
That put Uganda top of Group A on goals scored ahead of Egypt, who won the opening game against Zimbabwe on Friday.
Uganda previously played at the Africa Cup in the late 1970s. After winning on Saturday, the players probably did not mind that their long-awaited return came at a near empty Cairo International Stadium, an illustration of the tournament’s perennial problem with fan attendance when the home team are not playing.
In Alexandria, Nigeria needed Odion Ighalo’s late winner four minutes after he came on as a substitute to deny Burundi.
Ighalo pounced on his first chance. The forward slipped in behind the Burundi defense after a backheeled pass by Ola Aina and stroked a right-foot shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.
“It was a very difficult game,” Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel said. “It was tough. We knew that they are a tough team. They can run and run and run.”
Nigeria top Group B ahead of Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi.
Madagascar also made their Africa Cup debut straight after in a double-header at the Alexandria Stadium.
Sory Kaba gave Guinea the lead, but Madagascar responded twice in six minutes in the second half through Anicet Andrianantenaina and Carolus Andriamahitsinoro.
Guinea won a penalty, converted by Francois Kamano, to get the draw.
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