U17 AFCON: Golden Eaglets book quarterfinal place with win over South Africa
Nigeria through to last eight after battling performance against Amajimbo
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets secured passage into the quarterfinals of the U-17 AFCON after a 3-2 win over South Africa in their final Group B game. Nigeria join Morocco in the last eight, with only goal difference separating the sides atop the standings.
Coming off the back of a defeat to Morocco in their previous game, coach Nduka Ugbade made two changes to the starting XI, with Charles Agada and Light Eke coming into the lineup for Precious Williams and Favour Daniel.
South Africa scored inside six minutes through winger Vikky Mkhawana after the youngster reacted quickest to fire home from close range after a header came back off the foot of the goal.
The Golden Eaglets woke up after conceding and dominated proceedings afterwards. Making his first start of the competition, Agada was a constant thorn in the flesh of the South Africans and found the net in the tenth minute, only for the offside flag to deny him an equaliser.
Nigeria secured their equaliser in the 34th minute through the impressive Agada. A corner from stand-in captain Yahaya Lawali was headed out to Agada, who headed the ball over the retreating defenders into the back of the net.
With seconds left in the half, South Africa regained their lead after a brilliant solo goal from Siyabonga Mabena. The young forward latched onto a hoofed clearance before dribbling past both Nigerian centre backs and smashing an effort in off the crossbar.
Barely 30 seconds into the second half, the Golden Eaglets were level once more after brilliant play once again from Agada. The winger picked up the ball on the edge of the box and drove past two defenders before putting a brilliant low cross on the plate for Light Eke to arrive and score a tap-in at the far post.
The Nigerian boys were on top and piling the pressure as the second half progressed. Their efforts were rewarded shortly after the hour mark when Abubakar Abdullahi converted a brilliant low cross from Emmanuel Michael to complete the comeback.
The Golden Eaglets dominated possession and territory, pinning their opponents back with their impressive ball movement and interplay. Eke was inches away from scoring a stunner after he twisted and turned inside the box before unleashing a rocket which came back off the crossbar.
Nigeria held on for an impressive comeback win to secure all three points and book their place in the quarterfinals of the competition. In the other group game, Zambia claimed a shock 2-1 win over Morocco, who finished top of the group.