Nigeria beat a resolute Burkina Faso 2-0 in the first leg of a 2016 CHAN qualifier played in Port Harcourt on Saturday.
The return leg will be played in Ouagadougou next weekend with the overall winners advancing to the final tournament in Rwanda next year.
Bature Yaro put Nigeria in front with a clean strike from an almost acute ankle after 24 minutes.
The home-based Eagles doubled their lead in the 76th minute through a penalty taken by substitute Gbolahan Salami after Enyimba forward Ezekiel Bassey was fouled inside the box on his way to goal.
Substitute Chisom Chikatara ought to have given Nigeria a more comfortable win a minute later, but his clever chip after a defensive blunder by an opponent was misdirected.
And five minutes from time, the exciting Abia Warriors forward again threatened when he got to the end of a pass from the right, but the goalkeeper was quick enough to cuddle the effort.
Even before the opening goal, Nigeria had threatened before then as Nasarawa United midfielder Yaro, Osas Okoro and Ezekiel Bassey carved out chances.
But Burkina Faso to their credit did not sit back in their defence as they continued to chase the game.
Nigeria goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa pulled off a big save in the 32nd minute, when he beat off a swerving shot from distance.
In the second half, Les Etalons of Burkina Faso continued to chase the game and that way kept their hosts at bay for most part of this half of the encounter before the home-based Eagles got their lifeline with the penalty.