Nigeria U20 1-0 Gabon U20: Flying Eagles bounce back to winning ways
The defending champions of the African Youth Championship have gotten their campaign back onto the right path
By Shina Oludare
A goal from skipper Abduljeleel Ajagun from the penalty spot was all the Nigerian side needed to conquer a resilient Gabonese side at the Stade Ahmed Zabana in Oran on Wednesday.
The matched firmly controlled by referee Youssef Essrayri from Tunisia saw both sides come out like wounded animals after a disappointing first match.
It was the Gabonese, who ended their first match against Congo DR in a stalemate, which proved to be the better side within the first ten minutes. Mayoungou Gael forced a brilliant save from Usman Jonah in the seventh minute before the Nigerian goalkeeper parried another effort from diminutive forward Ngoye Bengone who plays for USB FC in Gabon.
Nigeria came alive for the first time in the 13th minute when Osuchukwu who was converted to the left side of attack dashed in to win a corner kick for his side. The Eagles then piled pressure on their opponent and it soon paid off in the 18th minute when Kayode Olarenwaju was recklessly brought down by Gabonese goalie Roldophe Nogouazela who tried to stop him from scoring a goal bound attempt.
Ajagun, skipper of the Nigerian side, made no mistakes in sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the resulting penalty putting the reigning African champs a goal ahead.
This goal saw the Nigerians aim for a second goal and it almost paid off when Moses Orkuma's rocket hit the wood work in the 23rd minute, moments after Edafe Egbedi had missed an empty net.
On the 44th minute, Gabon best chance came calling by Mvele Ebale whose shot at goal was not good enough to beat Usman.
On resumption of the second half, the Gabonese woke from their slumber but impressive Shehu and overlapping left full back Aliyu Mohammed were ever vigilant to curb their opponent's excesses.
Nigeria's tale of unending misses continued as Olarenwaju failed to connect to a well tailored pass from Ajagun that would have sealed the win and instead watched the ball go out of touch.
Despite the introduction of Alhaji Gero and Agbo Henry to the fold, Nigeria could not make ball possession count as Olarenwaju and Ajagun continued their goal missing expedition.
The last 10minutes of the encountere caused a moment of panic for the Obuh boys as their opponents bombarded the Nigerian defence in search of an equaliser but at the end it was the Eagles that soared higher.
With this victory, Nigeria moves to the second place behind group leaders Mali who had defeated Congo DR earlier in the day. The Eagles take on the young Leopards of Congo DR in their next game, a match that will decide if Nigeria will get to the knock out stages or not.
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