Morocco’s Atlas Cubs displayed a defensive masterclass to secure a sensational 1-0 victory over Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets in the 2023 Africa U17 Cup of Nations Group B clash in Algeria.
The match began in dramatic fashion as Tochukwu Ogbodi’s unfortunate deflection off an Abdel Hamid Maâli effort found the back of Nigeria’s net in the second minute, leaving the Golden Eaglets stunned and chasing the game from early on.
Nigeria responded with a flurry of attacks but failed to convert their chances. In the 21st minute, Abubakar Abdullahi squandered a golden opportunity to level the score, blasting over the crossbar from close range after good work from captain Precious Williams.
Emmanuel Michael and Favour Daniel also came close to finding the net, but Morocco’s resolute defense thwarted their attempts. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Richard Odoh was on hand to save his team’s blushes by denying the Atlas Cubs a second goal on the counter-attack just before half-time.
Abdullahi’s pace and stamina kept Nigeria’s hopes alive in the second half, but Morocco’s defense remained stubborn and refused to buckle under pressure. Despite creating several opportunities to equalize, the Golden Eaglets’ wastefulness in front of goal ultimately proved costly.
With the defeat, Nigeria remains in second place in Group B with three points, while Morocco secured their spot in the quarterfinals with six points. The Golden Eaglets will now need to secure a victory over South Africa in their final Group game to advance to the knockout rounds.
Overall, it was a disappointing result for Nigeria, who will be left ruing their missed chances. At the same time, Morocco can take pride in their disciplined performance, which saw them claim a crucial win in their quest for U17 AFCON glory.