How Golden Eaglets Overcame Baby Stallions To Win 2022 WAFU Zone B U-17 Championship
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By Agency Report
Abubakar Abdullahi’s two goals in either half helped Nigeria to defeat Burkina Faso side 2-1 to win the WAFU Zone B U-17 Championship at the Cape Coast Stadium on Friday night in Ghana
The two goals in either half by the exciting Golden Eaglets attacker helped the five-time world champions to win the trophy in the Ghanaian coastal city.
But it was not a walk in the park for the Nigerians as the Baby Stallions provided tough opposition and anxious moments for their opponents.
Indeed it was the Burkinabes that threatened first and they almost raced into the lead in the fifth minute but Nigeria goalkeeper Richard Odoh produced a perfect save.
The early attack sparked the Golden Eaglets into action as midfielders Basil Mbata, Yahaya Lawali, dead ball specialist Emmanuel Michael and Ebube Okere took charge of the game to deny the Burkinabes the opportunity of controlling affairs.
They benefited from the re-organisation of their midfield in the 23rd minute when Michael redirected Lawali’s free-kick with a brilliant cross for Abdullahi to head into the bottom corner for the opener.
The striker could have doubled Nigeria’s lead in the 11 minutes later when he was left alone with the Burkina Faso goalkeeper but he fluffed the opportunity to give the Stallions some hopes of a revival.
The Golden Eaglets paid for their profligacy as they lost their concentration just before the break and they were punished.
Poor defending allowed tall striker Abdulramane Ouedraogo to steal in from the back and head in to restore parity in the 43rd minute.
The equaliser made for an exciting start of the second-half and the persistence of the Nigerians paid off three minutes after the break.
Abdullahi had an easy job of stabbing the ball into the net after the Burkinabe goalkeeper poorly dealt with Michael’s powerful free-kick in what turned out to be the winner.
The Golden Eaglets striker could have scored a hat-trick on the night but he missed the post from a tight angle after Okere had played the ball around the goalkeeper.
The Baby Stallions were not cowed by the Nigeria dominance and regained control of the match leaving their opponents chasing shadows.
But their hopes of a comeback were dashed with Nigeria goalkeeper Richard Odoh producing some breathtaking saves to keep his side in the lead.
There was also enough time for Okere to rock the crossbar and Abdullahi to miss two golden opportunities late in the game to prevent Nigeria from securing a more emphatic victory.
The two finalists in Friday’s match have already secured tickets to play at the 2023 TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria next year.
The tournament will serve as the qualifiers for the FIFA U17 World Cup as the top four sides in the competition will represent Africa at the global tournament scheduled for Peru.
Meanwhile, in the third-place play-off, hosts Ghana rallied from a goal down to defeat Cote d’Ivoire 3-2 in the first match of the night.
The victory for Nigeria comes few weeks after the country’s U20 team won the WAFU B U20 title in the tournament played in Niger.