Nigeria reached the 23rd FIFA U20 World Cup finals on Thursday evening after defeating Uganda by a lone goal in Ismailia in the second quarter-final of the 17th Africa U20 Cup of Nations.
Goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso, who has been huge for the Flying Eagles since taking over the sticks after the opening-day defeat to Senegal in Cairo, captained in the absence of the suspended Daniel Bameyi, but was unfazed by the band and gave another assuring performance for the seven-time champions.
As early as the 10th minute, he had to enact a reflex save to stop a bullet header from a corner kick.
Both teams continued to frisk for opportunities with Nigeria’s Ibrahim Muhammad and Haliru Sarki probing deep but undone mostly by inaccurate passes and poor ball-holding in the final quarter.
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However, on the dot of the half-hour, Ibrahim Muhammad, who scored one of the goals that sank Mozambique on the final day of Group A attrition, latched onto a long ball from the defence, controlled well and fired. His effort saw the ball hit the upright, and in his confusion, defender Ibrahim Juma helped the ball into his own net for the only goal of the match.
Muhammad should have made it two for Nigeria only four minutes after the restart but he put too much power behind his turn and shot.
On the hour mark and seven minutes after, Aniagboso saved point-blank efforts that sustained Nigeria’s lead, and in the 80th minute, Samson Lawal spun the ball away from goal from a 22-yard free-kick.
The victory earned Nigeria a slot in Monday’s semi-finals as well as a ticket to Indonesia.
The Flying Eagles will take on the winner of the clash between Congo and Tunisia in a match at the Cairo International Stadium on Friday.
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