The Flying Eagles of Nigeria on Saturday, February 16 lost out on penalties to South Africa in the third-place game of the 2019 U20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
After a goalless 90 minutes and extra-time, the Flying Eagles lost on bronze after Adamu Ibrahim’s penalty was saved by out African goalkeeper Walter Kubheka.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t score during the ninety minutes and it goes to penalties like the semifinal and it’s anybody’s game and unfortunately we lost,” Flying Eagles coach, Paul Aigbogun said after he game.
It was Nigeria who was dominant from the start at the Stade General Seyni Kountche in the Nigerien capital Niamey.
Scoring chances, however, were hard to come by and it took 30 minutes for the Flying Eagles to threaten South Africa but Paschal Durugbor’s header missed the target.
South Africa were on the backfoot but were quick to counter attack and it almost paid off when Notha Ngcobo’s one-time ball met Bayanda Shangase but the forward could not beat his marker.
Nigeria’s Aliyu Ibrahim had a good chance to give the Flying Eagles the lead but his shot from a good position was well over the goal.
Despite waves upon waves of attacks from the Flying Eagles, the South Africans remained resolute in defence to close out the half without conceding.
The second half was the same as the first as the Flying Eagles had more of the ball and Ibrahim had another chance in the 60th minute but his overhead kick was saved by Kubheka.
Nigeria got another chance through substitute Nazifi Yahaya who got on a cross after South African goalkeeper Kubheka had misjudged the delivery but the Flying Eagles forward failed to hit the target.
The Amajita continued to defend well and forced the game into penalties.
“I’m happy for my boys because they won the match and we played against a very good team, Nigeria,” South Africa coach Thabo Senong said.
“For us one was just to rotate the squad a bit and give some players caps and to approach the game with a winning mentality.”
Nigeria finish fourth in the 2019 U20 AFCON where they had already grabbed a ticket to the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup courtesy of a place in the semifinals.
South Africa, Mali and Senegal will be the other African representatives at the World Cup.
Mali and Senegal will on Sunday, February 17 battle for the title in the final of the 2019 U20 AFCON.