Nigeria U20 side, the Flying Eagles, edged hosts Egypt 1-0 in their Group A encounter at the ongoing CAF U20AFCON in Egypt on Wednesday.
The fixture, played at the Cairo International Stadium, saw defender Solomon Agbalaka’s powerful header midway through the second half settle the contest between the two heavyweights.
Ladan Bosso’s boys lost their opening game to Senegal and they came into this fixture on the back of immense pressure with qualification to the World Cup at stake.
How it went
Just as it was evident in the previous game, the WAFU B Champions were jittery in the opening half once again and needed a bit of time to settle down and start creating chances of their own against an equally poor Egyptian side.
One of the shining lights of the game was Rilwanu Sarki, whose relentless running and work rate down the wings, continued to trouble the young Pharaohs. Meanwhile, the first half ended goalless with both sides playing poorly and lacking the right coordination in the middle of the park.
After the break, goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagbaso made strong stops to deny the Egyptians from going in front and moments later the Flying Eagles got the game’s opening goal.
Solomon headed home Aminu Mohammed’s delightful cross from a set-piece situation to score Nigeria’s first goal at the tournament and hand his side the lead in the must-win encounter.
Upfront, Ayuba Abubakar missed great chances to increase Nigeria’s lead, but despite the misses, the team held on for their first set of points at the tournament.
The side will now face Mozambique, who lost 3-0 to Senegal earlier in the day, in their final group game for a place in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, the four semi-finalists in Egypt will represent Africa at the World Cup tournament billed for Indonesia later this year.
Pillars, Katsina prepare for NNL
Four-time Nigeria Professional Football League champions, Kano Pillars, and their northwest rivals, Katsina United, have now turned their attention to the Nigeria National League as the second-tier division prepares to kick off next month.
Both Pillars and Katsina were relegated from the NPFL last season and were also reported to be looking for a backdoor entrance back into the topflight league, following speculations of buying the NPFL slot of private club, Doma United, who were promoted to the NPFL last season.
But all that was laid to rest as the Gombe club are now campaigning in the 2023 NPFL, while Pillars and Katsina have also been grouped ahead of the new NNL season.
Katsina are grouped in the Northern Conference A2 along with City FC, NAF FC, FWC Champions, all in Abuja, as well as Green Berets of Kaduna and Jigawa Golden Stars of Dutse.
Pillars are in Group A3 with Kebbi United, Sokoto United and Malumfashi FC of Katsina.
Following the NNL’s announcement for the release of fixtures on Tuesday, Pillars took to their official Twitter account stating, “The quest to return to where we belong is now.”
“We will start life in the NNL with lots of positivity, having almost all the players here has given us confidence,” he said.
The 43 teams for the upcoming season have been paired into eight groups as the NNL will adopt what it calls a super abridged format for the season.
However, the league body hasn’t changed the start date of the new season from March 3.
This article was most recently revised and updated 7 months ago