U17 AFCON: Unlucky Golden Eaglets fall to Atlas Cubs in Group B
Morocco through to quarterfinals with gritty win over Nigeria
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets fell to an unfortunate 1-0 defeat at the hands of Morocco’s Atlas Cubs as the North Africans booked their place in the quarterfinals of the U17 AFCON. The Golden Eaglets dominated the match but ultimately lacked the cutting edge to hurt their opponents.
After defeating Zambia and South Africa in their respective openers, Nigeria and Morocco faced off with a place in the last eight on the line.
The North Africans did not allow their opponents to settle before taking the lead in fortuitous circumstances after only two minutes. Abdel Hamid Maali showed great skill to dribble past Emmanuel Michael before putting in a cross which was headed by Golden Eaglets defender Tochukwu Ogboji, causing the ball to change direction and beat goalkeeper Richard Odoh.
After going behind, the Golden Eaglets began to impose their game, with only poor finishing from Abdullahi Abubakar denying them a first-half equaliser as the Atlas Cubs were increasingly pinned back.
Nigeria’s goalkeeper Odoh was a spectator for large spells but proved himself to be up to the task when he was called into action from a free-kick. The Atlas Cubs held on to their lead thanks to some brilliant defending in their box as their players threw themselves in the way of goal bound shots from the Nigerian players.
The second half brought about more of the same from both teams, with Nigeria dominating possession but failing to find a goal. Midfielder Hope Linus called the Moroccan goalkeeper into action from a free-kick and substitute Light Eke forced him into an impressive diving save in the closing stages as the Golden Eaglets desperately searched for an equaliser.
Morocco’s Atlas Cubs held on for an important win to reach the last eight for the second time in their history. For the Golden Eaglets, they need to get a favourable result in their final group game against South Africa.