Nigeria’s national U17 team, the Golden Eaglets began their 2023 U17 Africa Cup of Nations (U17AFCON) campaign with a 1-0 win over Zambia in their group B opener on Sunday night.
Favour Daniel fired home emphatically in the 76th minute after a ricochet inside the box to give Nduka Ugbade’s wards maximum points in their first game in what looks like a difficult group.
The Eaglets had the better of the first half exchanges at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui in Constantine but the West Africans could not find a breakthrough against the resolute Zambians.
In fact, both sides went close to breaking the deadlock in the opening half but were denied by the woodwork as the game remained on a knife’s edge in the second half.
The COSAFA Champions grew into the game in the second half but were denied by a point blank save by Nigerian goalkeeper Richard Odoh after the hour mark before they were stung at the other end minutes later.
I just watched their game against Zambia. Unlike the U20 and U23 teams, you can actually decipher what the team is attempting to do. They are composed and have a pattern of play. It is clear that their coach has a clue, and it isnt a bunch of players doing kick and run.— Joe Joe (@Ibi1kanobi) April 30, 2023
The five-time world champions were set to take a two-goal win into their clash with Morocco on Wednesday but substitute Light Eke made light work of a penalty kick awarded two minutes into additional time, with the Zambian keeper saving brilliantly.
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Effervescent Nigerian right back Yahaya Danjuma Lawali was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his impressive perfirmance against the Zambia U17s.
Up next for the Golden Eaglets is a clash with the Atlas Cubs of Morocco at the same venue while Zambia face South Africa in a Southern Africa derby.
Morocco currently top Group B after a 2-0 win over South Africa in the evening game in Constantine. Two goals in the final seventeen minutes gave the Moroccans the three points ahead of what promises to be a blockbuster clash with Nigeria.