Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets secured their spot in the quarterfinals of the U17 Africa Cup of Nations after defeating South Africa 3-2 in a thrilling match on Saturday evening, Soccernet.ng reports.
The victory set up an eagerly anticipated clash against the Group C runners-up, which will be either Burkina Faso or defending champions Cameroon.
The outcome of the final group-stage game between Burkina Faso and Cameroon will determine Nigeria’s next opponent.
Group C, which initially included South Sudan, was left with only three teams following South Sudan’s disqualification.
Mali emerged as clear group winners after winning their two games, while Burkina Faso and Cameroon found themselves with zero points.
The decisive encounter between Burkina Faso and Cameroon is scheduled for Sunday night.
Regarding the day’s permutations, whichever of Burkina Faso or Cameroon that secures a victory will advance to the quarterfinals to meet Nigeria, while the loser head home.
Additionally, in this scenario, South Africa will qualify as one of the top two third-placed teams.
However, if the match between Cameroon and Burkina Faso ends in a draw, South Africa will be eliminated, and Nigeria will face Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals. Cameroon will proceed to trade tackles with Group A winners, Senegal.
The disqualification of South Sudan significantly impacted the calculations. Initially, head-to-head results would have been the determining factor for third-placed teams.
However, this criterion is no longer applicable since the two bottom teams, Somalia and Zambia, have been eliminated. Consequently, the South Sudan criteria, which considers point tallies between the top three teams in a group, take precedence.
In Case 1, if Cameroon defeats Burkina Faso, Cameroon will have three points and join Mali in the quarterfinals.
Burkina Faso and South Africa will both have zero points, while Congo will have one point. The subsequent tiebreaker will be the goal difference (GF).
If South Africa has a superior GF, they will advance; otherwise, Congo will proceed as one of the two best third-placed teams.
In Case 2, if Cameroon and Burkina Faso draw, both teams will have one point each. In this scenario, Cameroon will join Congo as the two third-placed teams and South Africa will be eliminated from the competition.
As the group stage nears its conclusion, football enthusiasts eagerly await the outcome of the Burkina Faso versus Cameroon encounter, which will unveil the final quarterfinal matchup for the Golden Eaglets.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s fate hangs in the balance as they hope for a favourable outcome to prolong their U17 AFCON journey.