A second-half goal was enough for Nduka Ugbade’s boys to silence the Junior Chipolopolo in Constantine
Nigeria commenced their campaign at the 2023 U17 Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 triumph over Zambia on Sunday evening.
G12 Football Academy Favour Daniel scored the only goal that separated the teams inside Constantine’s Mohamed Hamlaoui Stadium.
— #TotalEnergiesAFCONU17 2023 🏆 (@CAF_Online) April 30, 2023
The Zambians began the game on a bright note as they were close to taking a first-minute lead, but Jeremiah Olaleke cleared the ball to safety.
Moments later, the Golden Eaglets thought they had earned a penalty when Abubakar Abdullahi was fouled in the box by Sekanji Siame, but referee Youcef Gamouh waved play on.
Nduka Ugbade’s team grew stronger in the game and were unlucky not to have taken a fifth-minute lead as Joseph Liteta deflected Usman Owoyemi’s shot in the box for a corner kick.
The five-time world champions continued to dominate, but they were unable to break the deadlock. Abdullahi found the net in the 13th minute, but it was chalked off for offside.
Seven minutes later, the Junior Chipolopolo had their calls for a penalty turned down as enterprising Emmanuel Michael fouled Emmanuel Mwanza – with the arbiter claiming the impact was minimal.
Three minutes before the half time break, Mwanza curled effort outside the goal area kissed the woodwork – leaving goalkeeper Richard Odoh with no chance.
Nigeria continued from where they stopped in the first 45 minutes, but they were unable to get their act right in the final third as the trio of Chimuka Lweendo, Aaron Phiri and Shedrack Kalyati held sway in the defence.
Ian Bakala’s boys were not short of opportunities. Nevertheless, they could not beat the well-organised Eaglets’ backline.
With the low-scoring encounter looking destined to end in a draw, Daniel gave Nigeria a 75th-minute lead. The forward drilled a rebound off Siame pass to goalkeeper Kalyati.
FT: Nigeria U17 1-0 Zambia U17
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In the first minute of added time, they were awarded a penalty following David Hamansenya’s foul on Abdulahi. Unfortunately, substitute Light Eke played the ensuing kick into the hands of the waiting goalkeeper.
Even at that, it was the West Africans who reigned supreme after the final whistle. Victory for Nigeria in their next outing against Morocco will see them through to the knockout phase.
For Zambia, they would be eyeing redemption against South Africa on May 3 in Constantine.