Flying Eagles qualify for gold battle as Falconets prepare for Cameroon
Flying Eagles of Nigeria yesterday qualified for the football final of the on-going African Games following a penalty shoot out defeat of Mali in one of the semifinals.
Scores at the end of regular time stood at 0-0 in the game in which Nigeria’s captain, Abubakar Ibrahim missed a 23rd minute
Nigeria, who lost to the same team in the semifinals of the African U-20 Nations Cup in Niger Republic via a penalty shoot out when both teams battled to a 1-1 draw, smiled this term with goalkeeper, Detan Ogundare the hero.
The Flying Eagles threw away their first three kicks, but they had Ogundare to thank as he saved the same number of Malian kicks. Mike Zaruma, Rabiu Mohammed and Emeka Chinonso wasted their kicks.
Skipper Abubakar Ibrahim and Success Makanjuola scored the fourth and fifth kicks, just as the Malians did, to take the shoot-out into sudden death.
In sudden death, Samuel Nnochiri and Adesina Gata scored just as their Malian opposite numbers. But after Adewale Oladoye scored, Mali’s next kick was saved by the inspired Ogundare to take Nigeria to Friday’s final.
The Flying Eagles will be up against the winner of the second semifinal between Senegal and Burkina Faso.
It is the first time that Nigeria will reach the final of the men’s football tournament of the African Games since losing the gold medal match to Cameroon inside the National Stadium Complex, Abuja in 2003.
Nigeria won the gold medal of the football event (no women edition then) of the Second African Games she hosted in Lagos in 1973 and then lost in the final to host nation Algeria in 1978.
Also to contest for the gold medal are the Falconets, who have qualified to meet Cameroon in the final on Thursday.
The Falconets on Monday broke a 12-year year jinx to return to football’s final after thrashing Algeria 3-0 in the semifinal.
Cameroon meanwhile came from behind to win 3-1 against Morocco in the other semifinal.
The match will hold at the Boubker Aamar Stadium, Sale on Thursday.
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