Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets may have suffered a heartbreaking exit at the quarterfinal stage of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Algeria, but they have received a notable recognition, Soccernet.ng reports.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has named the Nduka Ugbade-led team as the Fair Play Team of the group stage for their exemplary conduct during the first phase of the tournament.
Despite their quarterfinal defeat, the Golden Eaglets showcased outstanding discipline and sportsmanship throughout the group stage matches.
In their opening game, the Eaglets secured a narrow 1-0 victory against Zambia with a solitary goal.
Although the Nigerian lads suffered a similar 1-0 loss to Morocco in their second match, they bounced back with an impressive 3-2 triumph over South Africa in their final Group B encounter.
The five-time world champions, however, came short against Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals to miss out on a ticket to the FIFA World Cup later in the year.
However, the individual efforts of Golden Eaglets defender Yahaya Lawali did not go unnoticed.
Lawali was selected as one of the players in the CAF Best XI of the U-17 AFCON group stage, further highlighting Nigeria’s talent and performance in the competition.
As the 2023 U-17 AFCON progresses, the focus now shifts to the highly anticipated final, where Senegal will trade tackles with Morocco.
Senegal, considered the tournament favourites, defeated Nigeria’s conquerors Burkina Faso on penalties while Morocco edged Mali in a another nail-biting shootout.
All four semifinalists have already secured their spots to represent Africa at the upcoming 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup, scheduled to take place later this year.
Despite their quarterfinal exit, the Golden Eaglets’ commendable conduct and individual recognition by CAF serve as a testament to their admirable performance and the values they displayed on the field.