Nigeria’s U20 Boys, Flying Eagles, once more came from behind to excel, edging their Malian counterparts 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to reach the Final of the WAFU U20 Cup Tournament in Lome, Togo on Friday evening.
Sambou Cissoko got the Junior Eagles of Mali in front after only 11 minutes at the Stade Municipal, but the Flying Eagles, who came from behind to tear apart Ghana’s Black Satellites 4-2 on Wednesday, were unruffled and equalized two minutes into the re-start through Valentine Ozornwafor.
There were to be no further goals in a keenly –contested second semi-final, opening the gate to a penalty shoot-out, which Nigeria edged to reach the final.
The tournament’s first semi-final also went into penalties, as Senegal and Niger Republic ended it 2-2 in regulation time. Ousseynou Niang and Souleymane Aw netted for the Junior Lions of Teranga while Abdoulaye Salou Issah scored both goals for Junior Mena, who shocked Ghana 1-0 and held Nigeria to a scoreless draw in Group B. In the event, Senegal prevailed 4-2 on penalties.
The results conspired to guarantee a second final clash between Nigeria and Senegal in a major tournament in three days, with both countries’ flags raised in the final of the CAF Beach Soccer Cup of Nations in Egypt on Friday afternoon. The final in Lome will take place on Sunday evening.
A remarkable final half of year 2018 for Nigerian Football has seen the Super Eagles qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations; the Super Falcons retaining the Women Africa Cup of Nations; the U17 Boys winning the WAFU Cup to qualify for the 2019 U17 AFCON and; the U20 Boys qualifying for the 2019 U20 AFCON.
The Supersand Eagles won silver at the CAF Beach Soccer Cup of Nations and qualified for the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup; the U15 boys won silver at the 3rd African Youth Games in Algiers and; the U20 boys have now reached the final of the WAFU U20 Cup Championship.
Off the pitch, there has been a highly successful and hitch-free elections into the NFF Executive Committee, the inauguration of President of NFF, Mr. Amaju Pinnick as 1st Vice President of CAF and a robust, much –improved contract has been signed with global sportswear company, NIKE that underscores the progress Nigerian Football has made over the past couple of years.