Nigeria failed to finish their preliminary campaign on a winning note on Friday but got in some good preparation for 2018 World Cup in a feisty 1-1 draw away at Algeria.
Nigeria, who had already secured qualification last month and had nothing other pride at stake, were without the injured Victor Moses and Mikel Obi on the bench.
But they used the outing to give other players an opportunity to stake their claim for a place at the finals in Russia.
Obi’s midfield replacement, John Ogu, hammered home a left footed strike in the 63rd minute, taking advantage of a poor defensive clearance, to give Nigeria the lead after 63 minutes.
But Algeria were handed a soft penalty kick which Yacine Brahimi converted with two minutes to go.
Brahimi might have been sent off ten minutes earlier after appearing to head butt an opponent, but was only booked by Gabonese referee Eric Otogo.
The home side missed two clear chances in the second half through Islam Slimani and Aissa Mandi right in front of goal, after slips by Nigeria’s goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
Slimani also had a chance just 23 seconds into the match as he powered through the visiting defence in an effort to get his head onto a cross from Riyad Mahrez.
But his effort went wide.
Carl Medjani blasted a long range effort wide of the target after 12 minutes as Algeria looked for a win in their first match under new coach Rabah Madjer.
The former Algeria forward was back for a third spell in charge.
Striker Tony Nwakaeme, on his Nigeria debut, shot on the turn just before half-time as the Algerian defence failed to clear in their own penalty area.
He forced a sharp save out of goalkeeper Fawzi Chaouchi.
Other than the scoreline, the match was a remarkable one as five Leicester City players featured in the game in the city of Constantine.
Mahrez and Slimani for the hosts and Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi both started for Nigeria, with Ahmed Musa coming on as a substitute.
Group B Standings
Team PL W D L GF GA GD PTS
Nigeria 6 4 2 0 12 4 +8 14
Zambia 5 2 1 2 6 5 +1 7
Cameroon 5 1 3 1 5 7 -2 6
Algeria 6 0 2 4 4 11 -7 2
*The group’s final match comes up on Saturday, with Zambia hosting Cameroon