By Amaechi Agbo
Nigeria U-17 male team coach, Nduka Ugbade has stated that the Golden Eaglets 3-2 victory against South Africa in the last Group B match at the ongoing U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON in Algeria has restored the team’s confidence.
Nigeria twice came from behind to snatch a 3-2 victory against a well-drilled South Africa team on Saturday.
The victory came as a soothing relief for the two-time continental champions following their 1-0 defeat against Morocco in previous game.
“These boys have now picked up the confidence they needed following the defeat by Morocco and they are now looking forward to going all the way here,” Ugbade said on Sunday following the Golden Eaglets’ 3-2 win over South Africa in their last match of Group B in Constantine on Saturday.
Vicky Mkhawana steered the Amajimbo ahead in the 6th minute of the encounter, from South Africa’s first corner kick of the match, and Nigeria equalized in the 33rd minute also through a corner kick as Charles Agada powerfully nodded into the net with the Amajimbo goalkeeper stranded.
Much against the run of play, the Amajimbo restored their lead with a fabulous solo goal in stoppage time by Siyabonga Mabena.
Undeterred, the five-time world champions restored parity when Light Eke finished coolly from a low cross by Charles Agada, two minutes into the second period.
The Nigerians were completely in control afterwards, and Abdullahi Abubakar scored his first goal of the competition with a calm finish in the 63rd minute.
“This victory has restored the boys’ confidence. We needed such a win going into the knock-out rounds and it is our belief that we can handle the pressure there.
“The loss to Morocco was also a good lesson for us. When you’re at a championship, you need a winning mentality, but also a match that provides good lessons along the way. Both factors make for a very strong and ready squad.”
Nduka Ugbade captained the first Nigerian squad to win a FIFA World Cup, in 1985, and was assistant coach when the Golden Eaglets won the FIFA U17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates 10 years ago. He also took a FIFA U20 World Cup silver medal in 1989. Now, he is looking to lead the Nigeria U17 team to win the Africa U17 Cup of Nations as preparatory to giving the FIFA U17 World Cup a shot later this year.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets will battle Burkina Faso in the quarter-final of the ongoing U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON in Algeria.
Burkina Faso confirmed their passage into the last 8 on Sunday night after they defeated defending champions, Cameroon 2-1 in the last Group C match.
Nigeria on their part defeated South Africa 3-2 on Saturday to book their place in the quarter-final which will hold on Thursday, May 10 at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Algiers
Burkina Faso came 2nd in Group C with 3 points. The Group was reduced to three teams after the disqualification of South Sudan following MRI failure. Five players of South Sudan failed the MRI test .
Full Quarter-final Fixtures
Senegal Vs South Africa
Morocco Vs Algeria
Mali Vs Congo
Nigeria Vs Burkina Faso.