The Flying Eagles hammered Tunisia’s Les Aigles de Carthage (The Eagles of Carthage) 4-0 in Cairo to finish third in the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations on March 10, 2023. Egypt was the host of the 2023 edition of the tournament. While this was not the finish the Nigerians expected, it was a step in the right direction for Nigerian football.
At the beginning of the tournament, the Nigerian technical bench led by Coach Ladan Bosso was bullish about the team’s ability to clinch the tournament. They had instilled a lot of confidence in the fan base that even the wagering fans on every Nigerian bookmaker had bet on the Flying Eagles lifting the trophy. However, they lost to the Gambia 1-0 in the semi-finals on March 6, 2023.
Goals from Ibrahim Muhammad and Ahmed Abdulahi and a second-half brace by Jude Sunday blew Tunisia away. The Flying Eagles started the match at the Cairo International Stadium well. Ahmed Abdullahi was charged with leading the line, with Jude Sunday and Ibrahim Muhammad providing support.
The Flying Eagles Were Determined from the Onset
The Nigerians showed purpose and determination from kick-off as they sought to put the semi-final disappointment behind them. Samson Lawal could not convert an early chance after skipping away from his marker on the right channel before firing his shot wide.
It took nine minutes for the Flying Eagles to break the deadlock through Ibrahim Muhammad’s clever finish after receiving a pass from Daniel Bameyi. The Flying Eagle’s forwards punished the Tunisian defense for their mistake.
The Les Aigles de Carthage dealt with the early Flying Eagles wave of attacks with Jibril Othman and Mohamed Dhaoui asking the Nigerian defense a few questions. However, Nigeria was able to hold on and went for the break with the advantage. On the other hand, Tunisia rued their poor coordination in their attack.
Tunisia Couldn’t Find a Way Back
The Flying Eagles returned from the break, firing on all cylinders as they were determined to see off the match. Their efforts bore fruit as they scored a minute into the second half. Ahmed Abdullahi grabbed the second goal with a cool finish. Abdullahi came back to the team after missing a late penalty in the semi-final loss to Gambia.
Two minutes later, the seven-time champions scored the third through Jude Sunday to put the match beyond Tunisia’s reach. The tricky winger beat Amenallah Memmiche before scoring his first goal of the match. Sunday scored again to make it 4-0 on the stroke of full-time.
Apart from the bronze medal, the Nigerian U-20 team also won the Fair Play award of the tournament.
The Flying Eagles and coach Bosso will now shift their focus to the 2023 U-20 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Indonesia between May 20 and June 11. How will they perform?
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