BY ANDREW EKEJIUBA
Nigeria’s Pillar of Sports, Chief Donatus Agu-Ejidike has expressed delight with the victorious outing of the Flying Eagles at the just concluded WAFU B U20 Championship in Niamey, capital of Niger Republic and charged the team to step up their preparations at the continental stage.
Nigeria’s U20 boys, on Friday emerged champions of the West Africa B Zone when they defeated the Young Squirrels of Benin Republic 3-1 in the final of the Championship in Niamey.
Tolulope Ojo, who emerged Man of the Match of the fast-paced Final, set Nigeria on the path to victory in the 38th minute with a marvelous goal at the Stade General Seyni Kountché.
Ojo, who plays his club football for Ikenne-based Remo Stars, made it two for Nigeria in the 62nd minute as the Beninoise began to see the handwriting clearly on the wall.
Ibrahim Muhammad, a striker who plays for Maikunkele FC, made it 3-0 with 16 minutes to go when he cleverly won the ball as the Beninoise goalkeeper tried to launch an attack, and then heaved the ball over the goalie’s head.
The Squirrels however scored a consolation goal with few minutes to the end. They had won their Group A that included host nation Niger Republic, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, before edging Burkina Faso in the first semi final on Tuesday.
Reacting to the victory, Ejidike urged the team to stay focused by working harder and qualifying the country for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2023.
“It is heart-warming that the Flying Eagles are back to winning ways and I hope this victorious trend will continue.
“Nigeria is a dominant force in youth football in the world, so I urge the team and its handlers that they should work harder to qualify the country for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2023,” he said.
Nigeria, seven-time African champions, were worthy winners of the WAFU B U20 Championship. They started their campaign with a 2-0 spanking of tournament title holders and continental champions Ghana, before a 2-2 draw with Burkina Faso that took them to the last four.
In the semi finals, they were stretched to the limit by an Ivorian team with a blistering pace and superb turn, but won the tie 2-1 after extra time.
Meanwhile, Nigeria and Benin Republic will fly WAFU B zone’s flag at the 2023 Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Egypt.