The Golden Eaglets kicked off their campaign at the 2023 CAF U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over their Zambian counterparts on Sunday evening.
The Eaglets, two-time Afcon winners and five-time world champions showed glimpses of their quality as they dominated the first half with their slick passing game and exciting wing play. Despite failing to convert their chances, they eventually broke the deadlock in the second half through Favour Daniel’s well-placed strike to secure all three points in their opening Group B encounter.
Soccernet.ng highlights five key observations from the Golden Eaglets’ overall performance against Zambia.
Dominant possession and attacking threat
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets dominated possession throughout the match, attacking early and swarming the Zambian team. They were the likelier team to score first and had several close attempts, including a 10th-minute long-range strike by Emmanuel Michael that went narrowly wide off target.
Struggles in front of goal
The Nigerian lads created several threatening attacking moves but had problems putting the ball into the net, with one of their efforts ruled offside and another hitting the crossbar.
However, they continued to press forward and fashioned opportunities throughout the match.
Defensive risks and vulnerabilities
The Nigerian defence was all over the place in the first half and needed some last-ditch tackles to get out of tough spots.
Nigeria’s left-back Emmanuel Michael gave away the ball a couple of times, which proved to be risky as Zambia gained momentum. The team had to be alert to prevent the Zambians from scoring.
Zambian fightback and coach Ugbade’s frustration
In the second half, Zambia showed more fight and created better chances in attack.
Nigeria’s coach Nduka Ugbade was unhappy with how the second half began, and the Zambians came close to restoring parity with a good shot by Joseph Liteta.
Favour Daniel’s game-winner and penalty drama
Despite their struggles to score, Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets secured a 1-0 victory over Zambia, with Favour Daniel scoring the game-winner in the 76th minute.
However, they missed a chance to double their advantage from the penalty spot in stoppage time, as the Zambian goalkeeper stopped substitute Light Eke’s weak effort.
Overall, a win and three points are in the bag for the Eaglets, and they will look more of the same when they face Morocco and South Africa in May.