The Nigeria under-20 national team was the better side overall but needed extra time to shoot down the Ivorians
The Flying Eagles scored a penalty deep into extra time to edge Ivory Coast U20 national team 2-1 and qualify for the final of the WAFU Zone B U20 Africa Cup of Nations Qualification tournament in Niger Republic.
The highly anticipated matchup between Group B leaders Nigeria and Group A runners-up Ivory Coast lived up to its billing with two classy goals in the first half.
The Flying Eagles were the first to settle into the game, earning a corner kick within the opening five minutes. And from the resultant delivery, Daniel Daga headed the coach Ladan Bosso-tutored side in front.
Despite bossing much of the ball possession and creating better chances, the Nigerians were wasteful in front of goal, and the Ivorians soon made them pay.
On the stroke of halftime, the Baby Elephants won and converted a free-kick just at the edge of the penalty box to make it one-all.
Nothing could separate the two teams, even if the Eagles were marginally the better team, as the second half yielded no goal and the tie proceeded into extra time.
Again, the Flying Eagles dominated the opening half of extra time but failed to bury numerous scoring opportunities.
But a few minutes into the second period, Nigeria regained their lead through a penalty kick and held on for their second victory in Niamey.
With the latest triumph, the Ladan Bosso-led boys have booked their place at the 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations billed for Egypt.
The Flying Eagles will now face Benin Republic’s Baby Squirrels in the final of WAFU Zone B qualifiers on Friday inside the Stade General Seyni Kountche in Niamey.
Earlier, ten-man Benin defeated Burkina Faso 2-1 after extra time (the full-time score was 0-0) to book a place in the final and secure passageway to the Africa U20 Nations Cup in Egypt.