Nigeria’s Flying Eagles were beaten 1-0 by The Gambia in their semi-final clash at the U20 Africa Cup of Nations (U20AFCON) in Cairo, Egypt on Monday night.
A seventh-minute strike by Adama Bojang settled the all-West African contest at the Cairo International Stadium as the Junior Scorpions sealed a final spot against Senegal.
Nigeria went into the game on the back of three straight wins after losing their opening game to Senegal but The Gambia were even more imperious, reaching the semi-finals after having won all their games in the competition, keeping clean sheets on each occasion.
After a briskly good start, Ladan Bosso’s Flying Eagles imploded at the back when Onuche Ogbelu’s pass was intercepted and Bojang was set through on goal. The attacker kept his composure to finish beyond Chijioke Aniagboso in the Nigerian goal.
Nigeria huffed and puffed throughout the first half but could barely threaten the Gambian goal despite a barrage of corner kicks. The Flying Eagles trailed at the break.
Bosso rang the changes before the hour mark and substitute Ahmed Abdullahi was the leading light among the substitutes with his tenacity and resilience winning the team a penalty kick after a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.
However, the Belgium based forward undid all his good works when he dragged the resultant kick against the foot of the post with the Gambians clearing their lines.
Gambia were reduced to ten men at the nick of time when Haruna Njie was dismissed after a second yellow card but the Gambians held on for a memorable win which earned them a final spot at the U20 AFCON for the first time in their history.
Nigeria will face Tunisia in the third-place match after the North Africans were outclassed by Senegal 3-0 in the first semi-final game decided earlier in the day at the same venue.
Nasarawa United will keep fighting – Osanga
Former junior international, King Osanga, is confident Nasarawa United will fight their way up in the abridged 2022/23 Nigeria Premier Football League season, following a tough start to the season by the Solid Miners.
After nine games in the first stanza of the season, Nasarawa have only managed two wins and a draw, leaving them ninth in a tough Group A with seven points.
Osanga, who has made five appearances for the Lafia-based side and scored two goals, believes the team will be back stronger in the second half of the season.
“We had a rocky start to the season but gradually we are getting back into shape and we hope to turn things around by the time the second stanza of the season resumes,” Osanga told Punch.
“We resumed training immediately after the presidential elections and we have been working on areas where we felt we had problems in the first stanza. All the players are bringing our hearts and heads together to survive.”
This article was most recently revised and updated 10 months ago