Nigeria’s national under 20 team the Flying Eagles were eliminated from the 2019 FIFA Under 20 World Championship inspite of a spirited second half fight, losing 1-2 to fellow West Africans Senegal in Lodz.
Paul Aigbogun’s side have been under fire for poor performances since the start of the competition and duly went behind in the 36th minute after Amadou Sagna breezed past the Nigerian defence before slotting home beyond goalkeeper Olawale Oremade.
Ibrahima Niane doubled the Junior Lions lead on the stroke of half time when he guided home a low cross but Nigeria halved the deficit five minutes after the break when Aniekeme Okon touched Success Makanjuola’s free kick into the net.
While the Flying Eagles had to cope with double injury blows following the loss of winger Maxwell Effiom and midfielder Kingsley Michael either side of half time, they surprisingly grew stronger after both players were replaced by Collins Sor and Prince Eletu respectively.
Nigeria would however rue two crucial misses in the first half when the score was still 0-1. First, Okon brilliantly evaded his marker on a counter attack before squaring for Sor who was denied twice by Senegalese goalkeeper Dialy.
Shortly before the concession of the second goal, Nigeria were also presented with a free kick in a good scoring position but captain Ikouwem Utin fired into the wall.
Nigeria grew remarkably stronger in the second half with the industry of Okon and composure of Eletu getting them on but they ultimately failed to get an equalising goal that could have stretched the game to extra time.
Senegal will now face the winner of the all-Asian tie between Japan and South Korea in the quarter final on Saturday.
Nigeria meanwhile are left to pack the ruins of what has been a truly disastrous tournament in which the technical ineptitude of head coach Aigbogun and an abject lack of football literacy among the players were exposed at a premium.
The Nigerian team, regarded by some angry fans as the worst Under 20 set in the history of the country are expected back home in ignominy on Tuesday.