Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets have qualified for the semi-finals of the WAFU U-17 Cup tournament taking place in Lome, Togo.
The five-time world champions advanced to the next round on Tuesday after Group B leaders – Cote d’Ivoire thrashed the Black Starlets of Ghana 3-1 at the city’s Stade Municipal.
Nigeria, who lost by the odd 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.
The Baby Elephants raced into the lead after only nine minutes and consolidated at 2-0 as the match wore on.
But the Starlets, who are also 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.
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.
Hosts Togo were thrown out of the tournament on Sunday after two of their players failed the mandatory MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) tests conducted by the tournament’s medical team.
With Togo’s results in the tournament annulled, Burkina Faso rose to the top of Group A and would take on the Eaglets at the Stade Kegue in the first semi-finals by 6pm (local time).
The same night, Group B winners Cote d’Ivoire will take on the Niger Republic by 9pm (Nigerian time).
The winners of the semi-finals will battle for the trophy on Wednesday next week at the Stade Kegue, and also book a place at the CAF U-17 Cup of Nations scheduled for March 13 – 31 in Morocco.