Bosso Targets 8th U-20 AFCON Trophy After World Cup Qualification
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By Amaechi Agbo
Nigeria’s Flying Eagles on Thursday booked their place for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup courtesy of a 1-0 victory against Uganda in ongoing U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON in Egypt with coach Ladan Bosso now targeting to win the nation’s 8th diadem in Egypt
In the quarter-final match in Ismailia against Uganda, Nigeria also qualified for the semi-final of the tournament which the country has won seven times previously.
Nigeria is the most successful nation in the U-20 continental championship with seven trophies won in 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 2005, 2011 and 2015.
Bosso stated that although the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF President gave them a mandate to qualify for the World Cup, he added that the team are eying the AFCON trophy.
“Before we left our training camp in Morocco, the NFF President, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau told us clearly that the first objective should be getting a ticket to the FIFA World Cup.
“We are aware that Nigerians are looking up to us to deliver. While our mission remains bagging the World Cup ticket, we are also eyeing the trophy, which is still a number of matches away.” he said.
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.
However, on the dot of 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 to purchase a cruise 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.
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, happening at the Cairo International Stadium on Friday
Nigeria will face the winner of the match between Gambia and South Sudan on Monday in the semi-final.