Nigeria’s flying Eagles claimed the West African Football Union B Zone (Wafu B) title in emphatic fashion following a 3-1 victory over the Young Squirrels of Benin at the Stade General Seyni Kountche in Niamey, Niger on Friday.
Seven-time African champions Nigeria came into the final as favourites and lived up to the billing with Tolulope Ojo putting in a Man of the Match performance by scoring a brace.
Nigeria opened the scoring in somewhat controversial fashion after Benin were reduced to 10 men following what was deemed a blatant handball in the penalty area.
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The Remo Stars star then stepped up to the spot and made no mistake, sending his left-footed shot into the bottom right corner to beat Benin goalkeeper Dava Agossa.
Benin had looked lively before the goal following some good passing moves in the early exchanges but failed to trouble the Nigeria defence, only to give in when the Flying Eagles made their first meaningful attack.
From then on, it was the Ojo show as Nigeria utilised their numerical advantage. The young forward beat his marker before unleashing a left-footed stunner from 40 yards out which Agossa could only watch as it hit the roof of the net for Nigeria’s second in the 70th minute.
The Benin goalkeeper was at fault for Nigeria’s third when he passed the ball straight to Ibrahim Muhammad in an attempt to find a teammate. The Maikunkele FC forward lobbed the ball over Agossa, who was way off his line, to extend his side’s lead 13 minutes from time.
Poor defending from the young Nigerians allowed Benin to score a consolation in the 83rd minute but it was too little too late as Ladan Bosso’s boys held on to seal their maiden Wafu B title, succeeding Ghana who won the last edition.
Both sides had already sealed their places at the 2023 U20 Africa Cup of Nations following their victories in the semi-final where Nigeria beat Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 in extra time while Benin silenced Burkina Faso by the same scoreline at the Seyni Kountche Stadium.
Nigeria proved worthy winners as they ended the tournament with three wins and a draw. They started by beating holders Ghana 2-0 before a 2-2 draw with Burkina Faso took them to the last four meeting with the Ivorians.