Defending champions Nigeria on Thursday lost by a lone goal to their Sudanese counterparts in an 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 the Nigerian defence faltered from a counter-attack.
Nigeria was punished for their profligacy in front of goal as the likes of Stephen Odey, Blessing Muyiwa and Taiwo Awoniyi all had chances that could have given the Olympics Eagles a healthy away win.
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 the Imama Amapakabo 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. Both teams then represented Africa at the Rio 2016 Olympics, where the Olympic Eagles won the bronze medals.
The return leg will hold in Asaba, Delta State on September 10. Winners over two legs between Nigeria and Sudan will qualify for the 3rd Africa U23 Cup of Nations, scheduled for Egypt from November 8 to 22 this year.