Nigeria’s dream of qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup took a big hit, yesterday, when the Golden Eaglets lost 0-1 to Morocco in their second group game of the ongoing African U-17 Cup of Nations holding in Algeria.
Nigeria had beaten Zambia 1-0 in their Group B opening match on Sunday and needed another win to secure their passage to the quarterfinals. Instead, it was the Moroccans, who secured that honour with a lone goal victory.
Morocco has six points, Nigeria is on three points,
The game was barely two minutes old when Morocco made hay through an Abdel Hamid Maali’s first half deflected strike at the Mohamed Hamloui Stadium in Constantine.
Maali struck after only 75 seconds on the clock, a lead that the Atlas Cubs held on to the final whistle to move to six points on top of Group B.
After the early shocker, Nduka Ugbade’s boys threw everything at the North Africans, but they met a well-drilled Moroccan side, who conceded possession to Nigeria, but locked up their rear to halt the Golden Eaglets’ efforts at getting the equaliser.
As was the case in the game against Zambia, Nigeria did everything right but score, which could hunt them in the crucial final group match against South Africa.
Nigeria’s closest goal scoring chance fell to Abubakar Abdullahi when his run into the box was picked out by Emmanuel Michael’s cross, but his touch from close range rose over the bar.
Michael had a go at goal himself from a freekick, but it rose over the bar.
Two minutes to the break, Morocco were almost gifted a second when Jeremiah Olaleke’s short back pass was intercepted by Maali.
The goal scorer squared the ball to Adnane El Ahmer, but the latter fired straight at the keeper unmarked. However, Nigeria’s continued dominating possession in the second half did not make any difference as Favour Daniel and Yahaya Lawali frittered away chances.
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