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U20 AFCON: 10-man Flying Eagles fall in opener against Senegal

Nigeria’s U-20 national team, the Flying Eagles, lost their first game at the U20 Africa Cup of Nations at the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt. The Nigerian team fell to their Senegalese counterparts after a below-par showing.

WAFU B Champions commenced their quest for an eighth title in Egypt against the side they defeated to claim their seventh crown in 2015.

The Flying Eagles started brightly, with Dakkada midfielder Daga Daniel popping up around the pitch, dictating play from deep. Remo Stars striker Adams Olamilekan led the line for the Nigerian boys as they sought to maintain the good form they showed in the friendlies leading up to the tournament.

Senegal took the lead after a fast break in the 40th minute, catching the Nigerians upfield. A free-kick by Onuche Ogbelu was headed clear by the Senegalese backline before the ball was hit upfield, allowing captain Samba Diallo to run clear. The winger calmly squared the ball to Pape Demba Diop, whose first-time shot was smartly blocked by Flying Eagles goalkeeper Nathaniel Nwosu. Souleymane Faye stepped up and fired home the rebound from close range.

Nigeria were dealt a further blow as the impressive vice-captain Daga was forced off shortly with an apparent knee injury after a heavy collision with a Senegalese player.

Nigeria’s players struggled to create clear-cut chances against the disciplined Junior Teranga Lions of Senegal. The Senegalese squandered a number of chances in the second half as they looked to kill off the match.

The Flying Eagles ended the game with 10 players after substitute striker Ahmed Abdullahi received his marching orders in added time. The KAA Gent youngster received two bookings in quick succession.

Senegal held on for the win to establish an early lead in Group A after Egypt and Mozambique played out a goalless draw in the group’s other game. The Flying Eagles will hope for a better outing when they face Egypt in their second group game.

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