On Wednesday afternoon, Nigeria took on Guinea in the 2019 Under-17 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
The Golden Eaglets reached the semi-final after finishing top of Group A in the 2019 AFCON group stage, ahead of Angola. Head coach Manu Garba fielded yet another starting eleven against Guinea, who finished second behind Cameroon in their group. Here’s the line-up:
Goal: Sunday Stephen
Defence: Shedrack Tanko, David Akulo Ishaya, Clement Ferdinand Ikenna and Ogaga David Oduko
Midfield: Akinkunmi Ayobami Amoo, Olatomi Alfred Olaniayan, Fawaz Abdullahi, Samson Okikiola Tijani and Ibraheem Olalekan Jabaar
Attack: Wisdom Onyedikachi Ubani
The main change was Fawaz Abdullahi coming into the midfield instead of Mayoma Abayomi.
The first 30 minutes of the game were all Guinea who even hit the woodwork in the 22nd minute. However, the young Nigerians recovered towards the end of the first half and had a few chances with the ball going wide every time. Just before halftime, Coach Garba was forced to make a substitution and put Olakunle Junior Olusegun in for the injured Ayobami Amoo.
After the break, the Golden Eaglets continued to press but chances came few and far between. The lone striker Ubani had a chance midway through the second half but his shot also went wide. Nigeria had a couple of more chances before the final whistle but neither Olaniayan nor Oduko could find the net. The match finished a goalless draw and went into a penalty shootout.
The players lined up for what was going to be one of the most exciting shootouts in the Under-17 AFCON history. The first nine players for both teams were confident in front of goal and put their penalties away. And then there was attempt number ten. Guinea were the first to shoot, so Mohamed Lamine Soumah stepped up to the penalty spot and successfully converted it making the score 10:9 Guinea.
Golden Eaglet Ogaga David Oduko then went up to face the Guinea goalkeeper feeling the pressure of the whole team behind him. Unfortunately, he missed and shot the ball over the goal. The Guinea Under-17 team won, and they will face Cameroon in the AFCON final. Cameroon beat Angola, also on penalties, after playing most of the second half with ten men.
Nigeria will play Angola for the third place in the tournament. Even though they lost, the Golden Eaglets achieved one of their main goals which was to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup later in the year.
To find the best odds for all Nigerian national teams visit Merrybet.