Defending champions, Nigeria U23 Eagles, have been sent packing of the U23AFCON by South Africa following a disappointing stalemate on Friday.
Nigeria were held to a 0-0 draw by their South African counterparts at the Al-Salam Stadium in Egypt, Friday evening.
It was a toothless display from the former champions, who have really looked quite underwhelming since the competition started.
Reacting to the unfortunate development, President of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick, expressed his disappointment and shock.
“The team’s failure to reach the semi-finals and ultimately qualify for the Olympics is a big shock, ” Pinnick said after the match.
“Working together with the Ministry of Sports, we have been able to provide the team with what is required for them to excel. shock.
“Three years ago, football won the only medal that Nigeria took from the Olympics in Brazil. Our expectation was that this team would qualify for Tokyo and go there to do the country proud, ” he added.
Nigeria just needed a win to book their place in the semifinals, no matter the outcome of the other game in the group between the Ivory Coast and Zambia.
However, it was not meant to be as the Nigerian U23 side with the likes of Kelechi Nwakali, Taiwo Awoniyi, Azubuike Okechukwu, Orji Okonkwo and coached by Imama Amapakabo, produced a dire and dull performance against the Amaglug-glug who needed a point and were spot on with their tactics from start to finish.
South Africa, aware they needed a draw were content to allow Nigeria the ball while playing on the counter.
Regardless of this fact, they still looked the most likely to score throughout the tie, but for some smart saves by the Nigerian goalkeeper, Adamu Abubakar.
With the result, the Dream Team finished third in Group A, and would be flying back to Nigeria in no time as they will not be representing Africa in the Men’s Football event at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
Nigeria exits the competition with just one win and two defeats in three matches.