Free-scoring Gambia have reached the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations finals for the first time after defeating Nigeria by a lone goal at the Cairo International Stadium, Egypt.
Lanky forward Adama Bojang capitalised on a defensive slip by Captain Daniel Bameyi to slot beyond Goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso for the only goal of the match in the 7th minute. It was the only goal Aniagboso had conceded in the tournament.
Nigeria’s rapid raiders Ibrahim Muhammad, Samson Lawal, Haliru Sarki and Francis Abubakar failed to get their strikes on target, and in the second half, Belgium-based forward Ahmed Abdullahi struck the base of the upright from the penalty spot as the Flying Eagles put every foot wrong.
Defender Benjamin Frederick showed grit and intention in the 77th minute but his efforts were foiled close to goal. Two minutes into added time, Onuche Ogbelu’s rising shot rose too high.
While trailing by one goal, the Flying Eagles were unable to mount any serious attacking threat into the opposition’s half for the duration of the first half.
Nigeria continued to control the ball fiercely when the second half started, but the Gambia team was able to contain them.
In the process of holding their lines, the Gambians conceded a penalty in the 86th minute, which Abdullahi missed.
As the game etched towards the 90th minute, a Gambian midfielder was sent off, but Flying Eagles were unable to capitalise and were left rue missed chances.
Goalkeeper Pa Ebou Dampha who was named TotalEnergies Man of the Match played a key role in the historic victory for The Gambia.
The Gambians, who are bronze medalists at the last edition have now won all their five matches in Egypt to stop Nigeria from reaching their eighth finals.
The Nigerians will now compete for bronze in the third-place game against Tunisia on Friday.