Nigerian football moved another step backward yesterday, as the nation’s U-17 male team, the Golden Eaglets, were beaten 1-0 by the Baby Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the first match of Group B of WAFU B tournament at Lome’s Stade Municipal in Togo.
Back home in Nigeria, the nation’s representative in the CAF Champions League, Enyimba FC of Aba, crashed out of the campaign yesterday.
Though the Nigerian won 2-1 yesterday in Aba, it was not enough to stay on. Enyimba lost out on 4-2 goals aggregate, having suffered a 0-3 defeat in the first leg to El Merreikh in Sudan two weeks ago.
Enyimba had a similar scenario the last time they made it to the group stage of the CAF Champions League. Then, the Aba-based club won the first leg 3-0 against Etoile Sahel only to fall 3-0 in the return leg in Tunisia. And in the penalty shootout that followed, Enyimba lost their first two kicks before goalkeeper Theophilus Afolokai produced some miraculous saves in the next three spot-kicks to send the Nigerian through.
The fans’ hope that Enyimba could produce the same magic yesterday against El Merreikh ended up in flame, as the visitors took the lead early in the game before Victor Mbaoma equalised and went on to score the leading goal.
The coach Fatai Amoo-led Golden Eaglets put all foots wrong in their match against Cote d’Ivoire in Togo. The Five-time world champions had boasted of beating their opponent to be in a good position of picking the group ticket, as Group B has only three teams. The Baby Elephants scored in the 77th minutes yesterday.
With the defeat, the Golden Eaglets now walk a tight rope, as they must beat Ghana in their last match at the venue on Saturday. The Nigerians will also pray that the Baby Elephants don’t get a point in their game against the Ghanaians.
This year’s CAF U-17 Cup of Nations will hold in the North African kingdom of Morocco.
Last month, Nigeria’s U-20 team, the Flying Eagles, were eliminated from the 2020 WAFU Zone B tournament after a 1-0 defeat to Ghana in Port Novo, Benin Republic.
The coach Ladan Bosso-led Flying Eagles had drawn 1 – 1 against Cote d’Ivoire in the opening day of the competition.