It’s not the best of times for Nigeria’s national teams as the country’s U23 side succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in the opening day of the U23 AFCON at the Al Salaam Stadium in Cairo, Egypt.
Just days after the Golden Eaglets crashed out of the FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil, Nigeria’s U-23 Eagles on Saturday evening fell to demoralizing 1-0 defeat to the Elephants of Cote d’ Ivoire in their first Group B match of the 2019 CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.
It can be recalled that the Super Falcons also failed in their bid to qualify for the Olympic Games after an aggregate loss to Côte d’Ivore last month.
Ten-man Dream Team began the defence of their U23 AFCON title in humiliating fashion after losing the opening game of a tournament which serves as qualifiers to the football event of the 2020 Olympic Games.
A game seemingly set to end in a draw took a dramatic turn after defender Olisa Ndah received his marching orders in the 71st minute after Egyptian referee, Mohamed Maarouf, spotted an infringement in the Nigerian area and awarded a penalty which the Ivorians converted to secure a precious win.
Nigeria has not failed to qualify for the global games since Seoul ’88, winning gold medal at Atlanta ’96.
Defending champions Nigeria now need maximum points from their two remaining group games against Zambia and South Africa to stand a chance of reaching the semifinals of the CAF tournament.