A day after the senior team Super Eagles defeated Liberia 2:1 in a friendly, the Golden Eaglets faced off against Niger in the semi-finals of the West African Football Union Zone B Championship. Winning this encounter would book them a spot in the finals and a chance to take part in the 2019 U-17 African Championship in Tanzania.
Straight from the kick-off, the Nigerian U-17 team attacked Niger with Akinkunmi Amoo hitting the goal frame in the seventh minute. Niger managed to hold on for the first 20 minutes of the match and they even had a chance to score themselves in the 30th minute, after a mistake by the Eaglets players. Still, the Eaglets powered on and broke the deadlock just before the break. Muhammad Ibrahim broke free on the left and passed the ball to Amoo who had an easy shot from a few yards in front of goal. That was the last action in the first half.
After the break, the Eaglets kept going forward and scored another goal in the 58th minute to make the score 2:0 to Nigeria. Olakunle Olusegun wrapped his left foot around the ball and placed the ball in the net to make it four goals in three games for him. The match continued and it was a minute before the end of the game, just like it happened to the senior team the night before, that Nigeria conceded what in the end a consolation goal for Niger. The game ended 2:1 for Nigeria.
The Golden Eaglets are through to the finals of the tournament providing the WAFU disciplinary committee throws out the complaint Niger made that one of the Nigerian players was ineligible to play in the match because his passport had expired. Nigeria had replied that the player didn’t make the squad for the semi-finals and that his passport had expired during the tournament. As of this moment, a decision is still pending from the committee.
If they are cleared, Nigeria will play their long-standing rivals Ghana in the final game. The stakes can’t be higher as the winner will earn a chance to compete in Tanzania in 2019 in the U-17 AFCON Championship. The Eaglets will be full of confidence ahead of that match, as they played well against Niger and can carry that form to the finals. Until then, we’ll be waiting for an official statement on this matter from the WAFU.