Chisom Chikatara came off the bench to score a hat-trick and earn the match ball ©CAF

A late flurry of goals helped Nigeria overcome neighbours Niger in their opening match at the African Nations Championships in Rwanda today.

The Nigerian team, third at the 2014 edition of the tournament, proved unable to make a breakthrough in the opening half of the Group C clash.

A minute after the interval at the Stade Régional Nyamirambo Stadium, however, Okoro Osadebamwen Moses broke Niger’s resistance, as Nigeria’s pressure finally told.

With only one goal between the teams heading into the final 15 minutes of the game, a dramatic finish looked in store, but substitute Chisom Chikatara appeared to end Niger’s hopes by firing past goalkeeper Moussa Alzouma.

The goal prompted a chaotic conclusion to the match as Adebayor Adje reduced the arrears in the 80th minute, only for Nigeria to attack from the restart and restore their advantage, Chikatara finding the net for the second time.

Chikatara then looked to rubber stamp his name in the starting line-up for future matches by completing his hat-trick in the final minute of the game to give Nigeria a 4-1 victory.

Tunisia and Guniea played out a 2-2 draw
Tunisia and Guinea played out a 2-2 draw ©CAF

In the day’s early match, Tunisia and Guinea were forced to settle for a point in what became a battle between the team’s forwards Ahmed Akaïchi and Alsény Camara.

Akaïchi had given Tunisia the lead in the 32nd minute with a spectacular back-heel flick, however on the stroke of half-time Camara levelled the score.

The second-half was played in similar style with Akaïchi firing his side back into the lead, but Tunisia once again failed to reach the whistle with their lead intact, as Camara doubled his tally to earn his team a 2-2 draw.

The African Nations Championship differs from football's more elite Africa Cup of Nations, as only players who represent clubs on the continent are allowed to take part in the biennial event.

Group D is scheduled to begin tomorrow with Zimbabwe playing Zambia, while Uganda meet Mali.

Defending champions Libya are not present in Rwanda after failing to come through the qualification tournament.