Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets reached the finals of the 2023 Africa U17 Cup of Nations in style after a 3-1 win against Cote d’Ivoire in the first semi-final of the ongoing WAFU B U17 Championship in Cape Coast, Ghana.
Two goals from Emmanuel Michael and a superb header by Abubakar Idris Abdullahi condemned the U17 boys of Cote d’Ivoire to a 1-3 defeat.
The Golden Eaglets, five-time world champions, conceded first when Yan Diomande scored from the penalty spot in the very first minute after a foul in the Nigerian box.
The Nigerian boys launched onslaught after onslaught and were rewarded on the half-hour mark when Emmanuel Michael, who scored a spectacular goal from a 22-yard free-kick in the opening match against hosts Ghana, found the range off another free-kick from the right-wing.
Thirteen minutes later, Nigeria were ahead for the first time in the encounter when Michael, again from a free-kick at the edge of the box, blindsided goalkeeper Mohamed Cisse with an intelligent attempt that swept past the static wall.
The Ivorians came into the second half determined to browbeat the Eaglets with their size and stoutness, but they were pegged further back on the hour mark when Abubakar Idris Abdullahi found the net with a glancing header.
Four minutes later, the Ivorians were down to 10 men after Makhete Moustapha N’diaye was shown the red card.
Another free-kick by Emmanuel Michael in the 77th minute missed the target narrowly, and Precious Tonye Williams came very close with four minutes left after a brilliant team move set him up with a clear chance.
The Golden Eaglets will take on the winner of the second semi-final between hosts Ghana and Burkina Faso in Friday’s final.
Victory over the Ivorians means the Golden Eaglets will be one of the eight participating teams at the 2023 Africa U17 Cup of Nations in Algeria.
Emmanuel Michael was presented with the Man-of-the-Match award, for the third consecutive match.