By David Awopetu
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglet reached the semi finals of the ongoing WAFU U17 Tournament in Lome, Togo on Tuesday evening after Group B pacesetters Cote d’Ivoire thrashed the Black Starlets of Ghana 3-1 at the city’s Stade Municipal.
Five-time world champions Nigeria, who lost by lone goal to the Ivorians on the opening day of the competition and were forced to a 1-1 draw by the Starlets at the weekend, needed a favour from the Ivorians to progress to the knockout stage. And the Ivorians obliged.
The Baby Elephants raced into the lead after only nine minutes and consolidated at 2-0 as the match wore on. But the Starlets, themselves two-time champions of the world, pegged back their neighbours to leave Nigeria’s chances on the wire.
The Eaglets and their Ghanaian counterparts had both scored through penalty kicks on Saturday. It was the time for the Ivorians to benefit, as they netted from six yards with 20 minutes to go to make it a commanding 3-1 win.
It was the decisive goal that delivered Nigeria from a premature elimination.
Nigeria will now take on Burkina Faso, another youth football powerhouse, in the semi finals slated for Friday at Togo’s main stadium, Stade Kegue.
The winners of the semi-finals will battle for the diadem on Wednesday next week at the Stade Kegue, and also qualify for the CAF U17 Cup of Nations billed for 13th -31st March in Morocco.