Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets are out of the 2023 CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations after losing 2-1 to Burkina Faso in a quarterfinal clash played at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on Thursday night.
Despite only finishing second in Group B, the Golden Eaglets were the slight favourites over a Burkina Faso side they defeated 2-1 in the final of the WAFU B regional championship a few months ago.
And true to form, the coach Nduka Ugbade-tutored side started the evening on the front foot.
Nigeria were the more dominant of the two teams early on, and they could have been three nil up within the opening twenty minutes.
But Abubakar Abdullahi saw his stunning effort rebound off the crossbar after a good team move left their opponents ball-watching.
Burkina Faso’s goalkeeper Isidore Traoré then made a brilliant save off a fine Charles Agada shot before the post denied Abdullahi after his sidefooted finish had beaten the goalkeeper.
The Eaglets ceded a bit of the game’s control at the halfway mark of the first half allowing Burkina Faso to grow into the encounter with forward Aboubacar Sidiki Camara looking dangerous every time he got on the ball.
With the Nigerian lads becoming more sloppy in possession, the chances began to open up for their West African rivals, and it took the combination of goalkeeper Richard Odoh and an off-the-line clearance from Jeremiah Olaleke to keep the scores level.
But on the stroke of halftime, Burkina Faso grabbed the opening goal that their industry and bravery deserved as young forward Camara stabbed home from close range following a comedy of errors and miskicks from several Nigerian players.
The night got worse for Nigeria after Camara claimed his brace from the penalty spot following a clumsy tackle from Ogboji 12 minutes into the second half.
Abdullahi gave the Golden Eaglets a spark of hope in the 67th minute after he halved his side’s deficit following good work from substitute Daniel.
But the five-time world champions could not find the crucial equaliser before the final whistle.
The defeat means Nigeria will not participate at the FIFA U17 World Cup later this year. Burkina Faso, on the other hand, head to the semifinals of the AFCON, where they will play high-flying Senegal.