Yahaya Lawali, the fullback for Nigeria’s U-17 national team, was named the TotalEnergies Man of the Match for the second consecutive game despite his team’s 1-0 loss to Morocco in the TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations on Monday.
Lawali was CAF’s official best player when the Golden Eaglets defeated Zambia 1-0 in their tournament opener on Sunday.
However, the versatile defender, who ended the match as a midfielder, could not help Nigeria avoid the defeat against Morocco despite his best efforts.
Lawali was visibly saddened by the loss despite his individual accolade, stating that he had mixed feelings about being named Man of the Match.
The teenager acknowledged that the award was a good thing for him, but his team’s loss overshadowed his personal achievement. “It was a critical game for us, and it is heartbreaking to lose,” he said.
Lawali dedicated his award to his teammates and urged them not to give up, saying that “some days are like this; you do everything but can’t win.”
He also spoke about the team’s inability to convert their chances, citing their 27 shots, only four of which were on target, and none found the back of the net.
“We are heartbroken that we couldn’t take our chances, but we are sure to do better in our next match. We will work to ensure we are better and more efficient with scoring,” he said.
Nigeria will face South Africa in their final group match on Saturday, and Lawali and his teammates will be hoping to bounce back with a win to keep their tournament hopes alive.
The team will need to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to progress to the knockout stages.