Nigeria fails to qualify for Africa Cup of Nations

Terver Dominic, Lagos

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles has failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Under 20 Cup of Nations following a 3-4 defeat by the Young Falcons of Sudan in Lagos on Saturday.

The regulation time ended 5-5 on aggregate, but the Sudanese go through on the away goal rule.

The defending champions were fancied to go through after winning the first leg 2-1 in Khartoum, Sudan, but Sudan shocked Nigeria in front of their home fans at the Teslim Balogun stadium in Lagos by twice coming behind to equalise before taking the lead which they successfully defended to beaat the Flying Eagles to the ticket to Zambia.

Samuel Chukwueze got the Flying Eagles in front after 14 minutes but the Sudanese equalised some minutes after through Ahmed. Funsho Bamgboye shot Nigeria in front again after 26 minutes, only for the Sudanese to again draw level through Halid Abdamuleem with two minutes left in the first half.

On resumption of the second half the Sudanese hit the third goal in the second half before the Orji Okonkwo restored parity, but just as the Flying Eagles went in search of the winner, an own goal at the other end, with seven minutes left on the clock, steered the visitors through.

Nigeria football federation President Amaju Pinnick, who watched the match said: “Certainly, this was unexpected. Our boys won the first leg away in Sudan and looked strong enough to go through.

“However, in as much as we are disappointed, this is a developmental competition and we take a lot of positives from a number of very promising players that we have seen in this team. Coach Emmanuel Amuneke and the boys gave their best, but their best proved not to be good enough today.”

Nigeria has won the Africa under 20 championship a record eight times.