Nigeria U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets have booked their place in the quarter-final stage of the ongoing U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria.
The Eaglets showed great tenacity in their final group game on Saturday as they came from behind twice before beating South Africa 3-2 in an entertaining clash at the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaou.
The victory sees the Eaglets secure six points (two wins and a loss) and thus qualify for the quarter-final.
The final group game between fierce rivals South Africa and Nigeria kicked off with a bang as Vicky Mkhawana netted the opening goal for the Amajimbos just six minutes into the match.
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets were quick to respond but saw Abubakar Abdullahi miss a golden opportunity from close range.
The Eaglets believed they had equalised in the 10th minute when Charles Agada found the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed due to an offside call.
The first half continued as a tense, back-and-forth battle, with Nigeria relentlessly searching for an equaliser but unable to break through South Africa’s solid defence.
In the 34th minute, the pressure finally paid off, with Charles Agada levelling the score for the Eaglets, heading the ball into the net with pinpoint accuracy.
However, just before the halftime whistle, Mabena fired South Africa back in front with a thunderous strike that rattled the crossbar before crossing the line.
Nigeria began the second half with renewed determination, and Light Eke found the equaliser within the first minute of play, finishing off a brilliant run by Agada.
The Golden Eaglets maintained the pressure on their opponents, and their efforts were rewarded in the 65th minute when Emmanuel Michael set up Abubakar Abdullahi for a clinical finish, giving Nigeria a well-deserved 3-2 lead.
Despite creating numerous chances in the remaining minutes, Nigeria could not extend their lead, either due to the South African goalkeeper’s heroics or their own lack of finishing prowess.
Nonetheless, the Golden Eaglets held on to their one-goal advantage, securing a thrilling 3-2 victory that has taken them closer to their first target of qualifying for the U-17 World Cup.
In the other Group B clash, Zambia secured a shock 2-1 win over Morocco.