Two penalties, one in each half and at opposing sides, guaranteed that Saturday’s Africa U23 Cup of Nations qualifying match between Nigeria and Tanzania in Dar es Salaam ended in a 1-1 draw.
Captain Success Makanjuola netted for Nigeria in the 29th minute, after Qudus Akanni was fouled in the hosts’ vital area, and the 1996 champions thereafter created a number of chances that with a little more precision, would have put the match to bed by half time.
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The home team piled on the pressure in the second period at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, and hit the crossbar on two occasions before Djiboutian referee Souleiman Ahmed Djama awarded them a penalty that was brilliantly converted in the 74th minute.
The Olympic Eagles fought tenaciously to earn a winner, with their minds on the $20,000 pledge for victory by the Chairman of NFF’s task force for youth competitions, Alhaji Aminu Balele Kurfi, but it was not to be.
However, the boys return to the country on Sunday with their heads held high and determined to finish off the task with success when they host the Tanzanians at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Ibadan on Saturday next week.
The winner on aggregate will proceed to the next round of the Africa U23 Cup of Nations qualifying campaign. The Africa U23 Cup of Nations to be held in Morocco in November 2023, will determine Africa’s flag bearers at the Men’s Football Tournament of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.