The Golden Eaglets have booked a ticket to the U17 AFCON in Morocco in July after they snuck into the semi-final of the ongoing 2021 WAFU U-17 tournament in Lome, Togo.
Nigeria went through due to a better goal difference than arch-rivals Ghana and will now have to take on Group A winners Burkina Faso on Friday.
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The Fatai Amoo-led boys qualified for the semi-final after Ivory Coast defeated Ghana by 3-1 in the last Group B match played yesterday evening.
Nigeria had lost 0-1 to Baby Elephants in the group B opener before playing a 1-1 draw with Ghana. To qualify, the defending champions put their hope on yesterday’s result that Ivory Coast should defeat Ghana with a bigger goal margin.
It will be noted that Coach Fatai Amoo had earlier blamed the team’s 1-0 loss to Ivory Coast on the change of pitch.
Speaking after the five-time world champions drew 1-1 with Ghana’s Black Starlets on Saturday, Amoo said that the last-minute change of the venue of the opening match from astroturf to natural grass pitch affected his team.
“The first game we played, the Nigerian boys were jittery and there is stage freight. It was their first time of coming out to play.
“Again, I did not mention it all along, we have been working on artificial turf, syntactic pitch. For the two months that we have come together. It’s been astroturf we have been working in,” he said then.
The Starlets of Ghana needed just a draw to qualify for the semifinals but their 1-3 loss to Cote d’Ivoire on Tuesday ensured that their dreams of playing in the CAF U17 African Nations Cup have ended.
Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria are the four semi-finalists. The four countries have also qualified for the 2021 CAF U17 African Nations Cup.
Cote d’Ivoire topped group B with 6 points while Nigeria came second with just one point.
Ivory Coast and Nigeria are now through to the semi-final and have qualified for the 2021 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.