The Golden Eaglets’ hunt for U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) glory suffered a mishap following a 1-0 loss to Morocco in Algeria on Wednesday, thesportsbay.com reports.
The two-time champions wasted a basketful of opportunities in a match they dominated for large periods in Constantine as the North African earned all three points to sail into the quarter-finals.
An own goal by Tochukwu Ogboji as early as the 2nd minute was all the Moroccans, who downed South Africa’s Amajimbo 2-0 on the opening day, needed to make it within a step of booking a spot at this year’s FIFA U17 World Cup.
As happened in their opening match against Zambia, the Eaglets created chance after chance but pathetically lacked precision in front of goal.
Abubakar Abdullahi should have done better than balloon the ball skywards after Emmanuel Michael put him through in the 21st minute, and captain Precious Williams also failed to make hay as the North Africans mounted an impregnable rearguard.
Defender Yahaya Lawali, who was again picked as Man-of-the-Match despite Nigeria’s loss, shot towards the sky with a through ball in the 69th minute. Substitutes Light Eke and Adewale Quadri provided the only real tests for the Moroccan goalkeeper in a frantic second period.
In the end, Morocco held on for the win to make it two wins in two to take charge of Group B, with the Golden Eaglets are left to rue what might have been.
The Golden Eaglets will now play South Africa on Saturday, and victory is imperative in order to be assured of qualification to the last eight.
Nigeria is in Algeria chasing for a third U17 AFCON crown after winning the last one 16 years ago.