Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets who have been in the waiting room Friday at Togo’s main stadium, Stade Kegue reached the finals of the WAFU U17 Cup Tournament ongoing in Lome, Togo defeated Burkina Faso Babes 1-0.
In so doing, the team also picked a ticket for the Africa Cup of Nations for the u-17 scheduled to hold later this year in Morocco. This is a first major breakthrough for Nigerian football whose teams in international competitions have pile up series of bad results.
Nigeria’s solitary goal was scored in the 77th minute by Michael Emmanuel Papo.
The team will play the final match against the winner of Cote d’Ivoire and Niger Republic which will hold later on Friday evening.
The final is scheduled for Wednesday.
Last Tuesday evening after Group B pacesetters Cote d’Ivoire hammered the Black Starlets of Ghana 3-1 at the city’s Stade Municipal.
Five-time WAFU world champions Nigeria, who lost by the odd goal to the Ivoirians on the opening day of the competition and were forced to a 1-1 draw by the Starlets at the weekend, needed a favor from the Ivoirians to progress to the knockout stage. And the Ivoirians obliged.
The Baby Elephants raced into the lead after only nine minutes and consolidated at 2-0 as the match wore on. But the Starlets, themselves two-time champions of the world, pegged back their neighbors to leave Nigeria’s chances on the wire.
The Eaglets and their Ghanaian counterparts had both scored through penalty kicks on Saturday. It was the time for the Ivoirians to benefit, as they netted from six yards with 20 minutes to go to make it a commanding 3-1 win.
Hosts Togo was thrown out of the tournament on Sunday after two of their players failed the mandatory MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) tests conducted by the tournament’s medical team.
Meanwhile, former coach of the team, John Obuh, has urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to restore the payment of bonus and allowance of all underage national teams as part of motivation.
The NFF sometime last year stopped the payment of bonus and allowances to all under age teams including Golden Eaglets, Flying Eagles and the Nigerian U-23 squad the Dream Team.
Reacting to the poor performance of Flying and Golden Eaglets in their separate West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup competitions in Benin Republic and Togo respectively, Obuh said restoring payment of match bonus and allowance will enhance their confidence and commitment as some of the players are bread winners in their family.
“In fact, to be honest with you, having gone through such stages, these players, if you see what they do with the bonus and allowances they receive. You will find out that in Nigeria, there are so much load on the shoulders of any national team player irrespective of their ages.
“At their tender age, they have become the bread winners of their families, even if they’re the third or fourth child, they have automatically become the bread winner of the family,” he said.