The Nigerian u-20 national team lost to their West African rivals for the first time at this level to surrender their hunt for an eighth continental title
Gambia are through to the final of the CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations after beating Nigeria’s Flying Eagles 1-0 at the Cairo International Stadium on Monday evening.
Nigeria held a superior head-to-head advantage over their West African neighbours, winning their two previous meetings by an aggregate score of 3-0.
But the Flying Eagles lacked any conviction in their play in the opening minutes in Cairo and were punished for it by the rampant Scorpions.
Uganda’s Adama Bojang capitalised on a loose ball at the heart of the Flying Eagles’ defense to slam a firm finish past the Nigerian goalkeeper.
To their credit, Ladan Bosso’s boys stepped up their display after going behind, dominating ball possession, creating all the dangerous plays, and putting the Young Scorpions on the back foot.
But their lack of quality in the final third, especially a shortage of good inter-play between the wingers and the striker ensured they did not find the equaliser before the halftime break.
The team failed to improve much after the interval, with their buildup play in defence and midfield not productively utilised in the second half.
In the closing stages, the Nigerian lads were awarded a penalty, but Ahmed Abdullahi only struck the post from the spot to sum up the Flying Eagles’ poor evening.
Gambia were reduced to ten men with minutes left on the clock, but Ladan Bosso’s boys could not find inspiration from anywhere, as they lost their second game at Egypt 2023.
Nigeria will now face Tunisia in the third-place match, as the North Africans also lost their semifinal clash 3-0 to Senegal.