Nigeria’s national Under 17 team; the Golden Eaglets on Saturday night defeated South Africa 3-2 in a come-from-behind fashion to book a place in the quarter finals of the 2023 U17 Africa Cup of Nations (U17AFCON) in Algeria.
The Eaglets knew that a draw would be sufficient to see them progress to the quarter finals as second placed team in Group B but they were made to work hard for the win by a talented South African side.
Nduka Ugbade’s wards had to dig deep into their mental strength to overcome another early setback for the second game in a row after South Africa took a shock lead in the 10th minute at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui in Constantine.
FT: South Africa 2-3 Nigeria— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) May 6, 2023
The Golden Eaglets twice come from behind (no pun intended) to beat South Africa and advance to the quarter-final of the #TotalEnergiesAFCONU17.
Nigeria second behind Morocco who were beaten 2-1 by Zambia. pic.twitter.com/JF6Ra6700s
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Vicky Mkhawana was on hand to volley home a snapshot after a header cannoned off the foot of the Nigerian post in a corner kick situation.
Charles Agada, starting for the first time in the competition levelled for Nigeria after the half hour mark, heading home after Yahaya Lawali’s corner was poorly defended by the South Africans.
The game looked poised for a stalemate at half time but the Amajimbos had other ideas. Siyabonga Mabena embarked on a mazy solo run which saw him past three Nigerians before firing home off the underside of the cross bar. 2-1 to South Africa at the break.
Second half turnaround
Ugbade kept faith with his starting eleven and sent them out quickly after his half time talk. This paid off within 30 seconds of the restart when Agada, out of nothing weaved his way past the South African defence before crossing low for Light Eke to tap into an empty net.
The turnaround was completed in the 65th minute when a sleek passing move by the Eaglets culminated in left back Emmanuel Michael crossing low for Abubakar Abdullahi to tap home his first goal of the competition.
The Nigerians remained in firm control of proceeding and never let it slip from then on, hanging on to their win to seal a place in the last eight of the competition and needing one more win to book a place at the 2023 U17 FIFA World Cup.
In the quarter final game scheduled for next Thursday at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers, the Eaglets will face winner of the Group C winner-takes-all clash between Burkina Faso and Cameroon on Sunday.