Nigeria defeated Ghana on penalties to win the WAFU U17 tournament in Niger and qualify for the African Championship to be held in Tanzania later this year.
The match ended 1-1 at full time and the Golden Eaglets were masterful in penalties to dispatch the Black Starlets 3-1 on penalties.
The encounter at the Stade General Seyni Kountche saw the Starlets shoot into the lead in the 54th minute, but the Eaglets equalized minutes later when Akinkunmi Amoo finished brilliantly, sending the Nigerians in the stands into ecstasy.
Both teams tried hard but failed to get the winner in the regulation time, and the game had to go into penalties. Samson Tijani, Muhammad Ibrahim and David Ishaya scored for Nigeria, and even though goalscorer Amoo missed, the Eaglets were winners as the Ghanaians fluffed a kick and Nigeria’s goalkeeper John Amah saved another of their kicks. There was no need for the final kicks as the Eaglets were by then, unassailable.
Victory was confirmation of Nigeria’s edge over Ghana in cadet football, with Nigeria posting five world titles to Ghana’s two, and was also somewhat sweet revenge for Ghana’s victory in the final of the maiden edition of the Africa U17 Cup of Nations in Mali 23 years ago.
Before the final, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick had promised the Eaglets training tours of Qatar and Jordan before their participation in the Africa U17 Cup of Nations taking place in Tanzania early next year should they emerge champions and qualify.
At the end, the organizers chose Nigeria’s Samson Tijani as Most Valuable Player of the Tournament, while another Nigerian player, Olakunle Olusegun emerged the tournament’s top scorer with four goals.
The victory means Nigeria win the first WAFU B U17 Championship while Ghana will fail to qualify for the African Championship to be played in Tanzania.
This also means that Ghana will not be able to play at the U17 World Cup condemning to next generation of players into obscurity.
Nigeria will join Morocco, Cameroon, Uganda, Angola, and Tanzania for the final phase scheduled for Tanzania in 2019.
Coach Manu Garba’s team weathered losing his best players to MRI at the WAFU Zone B 2019 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers to win the tournament.
The Golden Eaglets coach said after his team’s victory that the Confederation of African Football didn’t do well with the new format of qualifying for the Afcon Under-17 tornament, arguing that almost all the top African countries in youth football, including Ghana and Ivory Coast, have been denied an opportunity to qualify for next year’s tournament in Tanzania.
He thanked God Almighty God for giving Nigeria victory. He noted that, the Black Starlets of Ghana played well in the final match against Nigeria.
”Nigeria have won the World Cup five times, Ghana have won on two occasions, and it is just unfortunate that a team like Ghana, Niger and Ivory Coast are not going to this tournament. I think this zone must have to talk to CAF to change this format because it is not good for West Africa. I say congratulations to Ghana, even in defeat it was a befitting final.”
Tanzania as hosts, Morocco, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda and Angola have qualified for the 2019 U17 AFCON.
The Golden Eaglets’ delegation will return to Nigeria Sunday.