Few weeks after claiming the WAFU B U20 Championship, Nigeria again underscored her undoubted strength in youth football when she swept to the U17 title in the region, as five-time world champions Golden Eaglets edged the Young Stallions of Burkina Faso 2-1 in Saturday’s final at the Cape Coast Stadium in Ghana.
Forward Abubakar Abdullahi had threatened the Burkinabe rear as early as the 8th minute when his low drive streamed away from goal, but in the 22nd minute, he rose highest in the box to powerfully nod Emmanuel Michael’s perfect delivery into the net for Nigeria’s first goal.
In the 34th minute, Abdullahi missed a golden opportunity to make it two for himself and for Nigeria, but he filled his lines, allowing the Stallions a respite. The miss would knock hard seven minutes later, when Abdulramane Ouedraogo, also with a header, equalized for Burkina Faso.
Two minutes into the second half, Abdullahi got his second and Nigeria’s second, taking the Golden Eaglets to a 2-1 lead. However, 12 minutes later, he should have made it a hat-trick and Nigeria’s third but he lost the opportunity.
That loss could once more have proved costly, as the Stallions broke forward, only to see Nigeria goalkeeper Richard Odoh come up with a magnificent save.
In the 67th minute, Ebube Okeke rocked the crossbar from 25 yards, but there were to be no more goals and Nigeria collected a second regional diadem at the youth level five weeks after the U20 boys defeated neighbours Benin Republic in the final to win the WAFU B competition in Niger Republic.
Nigeria goalkeeper Richard Odoh was selected as the Man-of-the-Match. His compatriot Emmanuel Michael won the prize in all three previous matches against Ghana, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire.