After beating Ghana 4:2 on Wednesday, Nigeria are through to the West African Football Union (WAFU) U-20 Cup of Nations semi-finals.
Nigeria were drawn to Group B of the Cup with Benin Republic, Niger and Ghana. In Group A, Togo, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso would fight it out. Benin Republic pulled out at the last minute to leave Group A with three members. Niger surprised Ghana in their first match and drew with Nigeria on Sunday, December 9th. And on Wednesday, the popular Flying Eagles of Nigeria were scheduled to play the Black Satellites of Ghana, their long-time rivals.
In the other group, on Thursday, Mali and Senegal are through to the semi-finals. Nigeria will face Mali, while Niger will take on Senegal. Both games will be played on Friday. The winners will compete in the Finals game on Sunday.
Flying Eagles coach Paul Aigbogun was disappointed with the first game but confident his players would make it all up against the Black Satellites. It was a tight match from the start with the deadlock breaking 28 minutes into the game. Emmanuel Toku scored for Ghana to give them a 1:0 lead. Nigeria fought back though and managed to equalize in the last minute of the first half, with teams going into the break level. Effiom Maxwell was the scorer.
Coming back after the restart, both teams were cautious and there wasn’t much in terms of goal chances until the 77th minute. Ibraham Abubakar took the responsibility and converted a penalty to give the Eagles a 2:1 lead. A couple of minutes later, Wasiu Alalade scored the third goal for Nigeria and soon after Maxwell scored his second goal of the game and number four for Nigeria. In the dying moments of the game, Toku managed to get his second and make the final score 4:2 to Nigeria. The double scorer Effiom Maxwell was pronounced Man of the Match.
The Flying Eagles finish top of the group because of a better goal difference than Niger and book a semi-final against Mali. Like we mentioned earlier, Senegal will take on Niger while the hosts Togo didn’t go through.
The WAFU Cup tournament was played to prepare the teams for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) which will be played in 2019. Niger will be hosting the tournament and the seven-time winners Nigeria will hope to do well again. For the moment they will try to win against Mali and make it to the finals.