On Sunday evening in Algeria, Nigeria’s U-17 team, the Eaglets, took on Zambia in their opening match of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament for that age category. The game was a highly anticipated affair, with Nigeria seeking to add to their two previous U-17 Africa Cup of Nations titles, while Zambia aimed to start their campaign on a positive note.
The match began with Nigeria on the attack, as they swarmed on Zambia from the outset. Abubakar Abdullahi, Nigeria’s star striker, had an early chance to open the scoring, but was brought down in the second minute of the match and the referee deemed it not to be a foul.
Undeterred, Nigeria continued to press forward, with left back Emmanuel Michael coming close to scoring with a long-range strike in the 10th minute. Abdullahi had a goal disallowed for offside in the 14th minute, before coming close to scoring with a header just three minutes later, which was saved by Zambia’s keeper, Shadrick Kalyati.
Zambia grew into the game as the first half progressed, with Precious Williams hitting the woodwork in the 40th minute and Emmanuel Mwanza coming close to scoring with a shot that hit the crossbar. However, Nigeria’s defense held firm and kept the scoreline goalless at half-time.
The second half began in a scrappy fashion, with both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances. Abdullahi came close to scoring again in the 65th minute with a header that went just wide, before Nigeria finally broke the deadlock in the 76th minute. Favour Daniel scored from close range after a period of sustained pressure from Nigeria, although they had initially appealed for a penalty.
Zambia tried to mount a comeback in the closing stages of the game, but Nigeria’s defense held firm and secured a hard-fought victory. There was a late chance for Nigeria to double their lead when Light Eke was awarded a penalty in stoppage time, but he missed the spot-kick with a tame effort.
Overall, it was a solid performance from Nigeria, who showed their attacking prowess and resilience in defense. They will be looking to build on this victory and continue their bid for a third U-17 Africa Cup of Nations title.