Nigeria’s national Under-17 side; the Golden Eaglets on Thursday bounced back from their opening day set-back to outclass Cote d’Ivoire 5-1 and qualify for the semi-final of the 2019 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations qualifying tournament going on at the Stade Municipal in Niamey, Niger Republic.
The Eaglets, led by head coach Manu Garba and assisted by Nduka Ugbade conceded two goals in the first ten minutes en route to their loss to Burkina Faso on Sunday but enjoyed a better fortune on Thursday when they raced to a two-goal lead in the opening ten minutes.
Hassan Hussain gave the Nigerians a deserved lead in the seventh minute minute before the impressive Olatomi Olaniyan doubled his side’s advantage in the tenth minute of the second Group B game in Niger.
Undaunted, the Nigerian side continued to pour forward with their exquisite brand of football and were rewarded with further goals in the first half. Scorer of the team’s two goals in the loss against the Burkinabes; Olakunle Olusegun scored yet again in the twenty-third minute to take his competition’s tally to three goals before Oluwatimilehin Adeniyi struck four minutes later to virtually take the game beyond the Ivorians.
Nigeria’s 4-0 half time lead was enough to take them to the top of the table, but the enterprising Eaglets still added a fifth from the penalty spot through the match’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Akinkunmi Amoo.
Coted’voire – playing their first game in the group after Republic of Benin were disqualified – got on the score sheet through a penalty of their own, converted by team captain Oliver Junior Sou twenty minutes from time.
The Nigerian lads held on for victory which assured them of a semi-final place and will now await the result of the final group game between Burkina Faso and Coted’voire on Sunday to determine whether they will go into the semifinals as group winners or second in Group B.
Just like in Group B, only two games have been decided in Group A with hosts Niger drawing goalless with Togo and Ghana in their first and second games respectively.
The semi-final matches of the tournament will hold next Wednesday (September 12) at the same venue. Only the overall winner will go through to next year’s Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations in Tanzania.