The Nigeria national football team under-17 contingent, the Golden Eaglets, lost their second group stage game of the ongoing under-17 AFCON 2023 tournament.
They lost to the Morocco under-17 team, the Atlas Cubs, who ran away with all three points thanks to an early goal which proved to be the match winner.
Nduka Ugbade's side will need a victory against South Africa to scale through to the next round or risk missing out on the FIFA under-17 World Cup coming up in November/December 2023.
Ugbade will be focused on correcting flaws before facing the junior Bafana Bafana on Saturday.
Nigeria U-17 0 – 1 Morocco U-17: As it happened
The game was characterised by wastefulness which a visibly frustrated Ugbade could not correct with his half time talk and his instructions from the sidelines.
The Atlas Cubs also focused on defence for most of the game after scoring their goal in the sixth minute of the match to get them ahead.
The Group B tie started with an unfortunate deflection of Morocco's Abdel Hamid Maâli's shot into the back of the Nigeria net by Tochukwu Ogbodi, who had to be consoled by his teammates.
— Football Report (@FootballReprt) May 3, 2023
The Super Eagles hopefuls kicked into a higher gear after that unfortunate incident but the Morocco coach had instructed his Cubs to set up defensively for the onslaught that the Golden Eaglets are capable of.
The Eaglets saw their clearest chance to go ahead scoffed In the 21st minute by Abubakar Abdullahi, who blasted over the crossbar from close range after the team's captain, Precious Williams, had done enough to create a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
The Eaglets continued to attack but Morocco's resolute defence held sway over them. The North Africans would almost get a second but goalkeeper Richard Odoh was alert to the danger.
Abdullahi drove the attack for the Nigeria Super Eagles hopefuls in the second half but the under-17 Nigeria national football team contingent were unable to break down the resolute defence of Morocco.
The loss keeps them in second place on goal difference, ahead of their next opponents, South Africa. A similar performance with better finishing will seal the deal for the Eaglets in that game.
“We are heartbroken,” Yahaya Lawali says
The Golden Eaglets fullback ended up as the man of the match despite their loss.
This is his second consecutive man of the match award which has now put him in pole position to win the tournament's best player award. He received the award with sadness, however, as the loss hit harder than the joy of being recognised as the game's best player did.
🇲🇦 ➕ 3️⃣
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— #TotalEnergiesAFCONU17 2023 🏆 (@CAF_Online) May 3, 2023
Lawali acknowledged that the win was a good thing for him and stated that his teammates and him would do better at converting their chances against South Africa.
The Eaglets had 27 shots against Morocco but only four were on target in a game that was frustrating to watch for the team's fans.
“It was a critical game for us, and it is heartbreaking to lose,” the Super Eagles hopeful said. “Some days are like this; you do everything but can’t win.
“We are heartbroken that we couldn’t take our chances, but we are sure to do better in our next match. We will work to ensure we are better and more efficient with scoring.”
They will rest and prepare for the junior Bafana Bafana challenge on Saturday as they look to qualify for the next round.
Fans can stay updated with the live scores surrounding the Golden Eaglets, between now and the end of the competition.
This article was most recently revised and updated 10 months ago