Nigeria’s U20 squad, seeking an eighth continental title, shot to the top of their pool on the first day of the 21st Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Niger Republic on Saturday with a 2-0 defeat of Burundi, hours after the host nation and South Africa were stalemated at 1-1 in the opening game of the tournament.
The seven-time champions dominated in the first period but had nothing to show for their superior possession and onslaughts. However, in the 55th minute, Yahaya Nazifi got the Flying Eagles in front, before the lively Effiom Maxwell made it two in the 71st minute.
Nigeria came close on a few other occasions as the match wore on, but there were to be no more goals on the night at the Stade Seyni Kountche.
Paul Aigbogun’s wards were full value for their three points and the draw between Niger Republic and South Africa means the Flying Eagles would earn a spot in the semi finals of the competition and a ticket to this summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup finals in Poland if they defeat South Africa on Tuesday evening.
Niger Republic will play Burundi on Tuesday and then clash with Nigeria in what could be an explosive encounter at the Stade Seyni Kountche on Friday.
The championship continues on Sunday with matches in the all –West African Group B, where Senegal, Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso slug things out.