The Eaglets had to come from behind to win the semi-final against their Ivorian counterparts
The Nigeria U-17 team have secured the twin target of qualifying for the final stage of the WAFU B U-17 championship as well as a qualification ticket to next year’s African U-17 championship billed for Algeria.
Two free-kick goals from Man of the Match Emmanuel Michael and a header from Abubakar Abdullahi in the second half ensured victory for Nigeria’s national U-17 male team.
The Eaglets showed great tenacity in Tuesday’s semi-final tie at the 15,000 –capacity Cape Coast Stadium as the Coach Nduka Ugbade-led boys had a miserable start; falling to an early goal from the penalty spot.
Yan Diomande scored from the penalty spot in the very first minute after a foul in the Nigerian box.
The Eaglets, however, showed great composure as Michael pulled the team level with his second free-kick of the tourney and added another one in the 42nd minute to give Nigeria a 2-1 lead at halftime.
The Eaglets continued from where they stopped in the second half as Abdullahi doubled his team’s lead with a header off Yahaya Lawali’s beautiful assist.
Though the Ivorians tried to find their way back into the game, the Eaglets were solid and they were further constrained by a second yellow card to one of their players on the hour.
Tuesday’s victory, which is the most important for the Eaglets, comes on the heels of earlier 4-2 and 3-1 wins over Ghana’s Black Starlets 4-2 and Togo’s Young Sparrowhawks respectively.
Aside from qualifying for the final and by extension the tournament in Algeria, the Eaglets will be happy to have gotten their pound of flesh off the Ivorians, who defeated them in the final of the same competition in Lome early last year.
The Nigeria U17s will now wait to see who their final opponent will be between Ghana and Burkina Faso as both teams battle later today.
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets are the most successful team in the world in the U-17 category with five titles but they have two CAF titles-2001 and 2007.
Interestingly, the present Eaglets coach, Ugbade, was the first player to lift the trophy in 1985 when it was a U-16 tournament. He has gone on to win the trophy as an assistant coach, in 2015, and now looking to complete the cycle; winning as a head coach.