Home-based Super Eagles on Saturday failed to qualify for the African Nations Championships (CHAN) as Nigeria lost to Togo 4-3 on aggregate at the Agege Stadium, Lagos.
Nigeria secured a 2-0 win over the Hawks in the second leg of the qualifiers after Sikiru Alimi got the two goals for the hosts but not enough to see them through.
Having lost 4-1 in the first leg in Lome, Coach Imama Amapakabo invited eight new players to beef up his team.
Though Theophilus Afelokahai retained his position in goal, most of the new invitees were thrown into the starting lineup.
Kano Pillars forward Nyima Nwagua, Enugu Rangers midfielder Anthony Shimaga, Enyimba defender Ifeanyi Anamemena and Kano Pillars Ifeanyi Nweke all started Saturday’s game with Alimi and Sunusi Ibrahim leading the attack.
Nigeria started the game at a fast pace and inside eight minutes they were a goal up through Alimi.
While it was expected that the hosts will build on their blistering start, Nigeria failed to convert their numerous chances; heading to the break with just the slim advantage.
After sustained pressure, the Hawks, who adopted a defensive approach all through were finally, breached again in the 72nd minute and it was Alimi that scored his second of the game.
With a lot of stoppages and time-wasting by the visitors, the referee added 10 minutes but the Hawks still held on to progress on a 4-3 aggregate scoreline.
Nigeria finished as runners-up in the last edition of CHAN in Morocco.