After a draw with Uganda on Saturday afternoon, Nigeria has reached the 2019 Under-17 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-finals.
At the beginning of the tournament, the Golden Eaglets were one of the favourites to go all the way. They were drawn in Group A with Angola, Uganda and the hosts Tanzania. Their opening games was a goal-scoring show with nine goals in total. The Eaglets triumphed 5:4 in the end to kick-off the campaign with an important win.
Head Coach Manu Garba was thoroughly satisfied with his side attacking mentality since they had over 30 shots in the game, scoring five goals.
Their next opponent was Angola and it was a different type of encounter. A single goal decided the match giving Nigeria another win and a commanding lead at the top of the group. Once again, the Golden Eaglets were aggressive up front, but they could only convert one of the 20 shots at goal. This win also meant they made the semi-finals of the 2019 AFCON and the 2019 Under-17 World Cup which will take place later in the year.
The last group match was against Uganda on Saturday. The encounter was played at the Chamazi Stadium in Mbagala. Nigeria had to come back from a goal down in the second half to earn a point.
The Eaglets were better in the first 15 minutes but couldn’t create a good chance to score. Their first effort came in the 17th minute but the shot went wide. They had a few more efforts before the break but again the shots went wide off the mark.
After the restart it was all Nigeria, even forcing the Ugandan goalkeeper to make a few saves. But it was Uganda who scored first in the 69th minute through John Kokas Alou. Thankfully, their lead was short-lived. Samson Tijani provided a great ball for Ibraheem Olalekan Jabaar in the 74th minute who simply slotted the ball home to make the final score a 1:1 draw.
Coach Garba will have to work with his players on their efficiency. Once again, the Eaglets had much more of the ball and 24 shots on goal. Twelve of those were shots on target but again only one was converted into a goal.
Still, Nigeria finish the group stage in 1st place, unbeaten, with seven points out of possible nine and ready for the semi-finals. In the other group game, Angola beat Tanzania 4:2 securing second place in the group. Both teams will have to wait for Sunday night to see who they will play in the semis.
Group B has Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco and Senegal in it. Cameroon is safe at the top of the group with two wins and they will probably beat Senegal on Sunday. Guinea is second right now but if they get beaten by Morocco on Sunday, they will end up third. In any case, one of the two will play Nigeria in the semi-final on April 24th at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Nigeria, the two-time AFCON champions will be favourite to win whoever they play. A trophy would go a long way to provide the Golden Eaglets with confidence ahead of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil in October.
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