Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets’ ticket for the FIFA U-17 World Cup was finally confirmed by Uganda who initially got it withheld. Both sides played a 1-1 draw on Saturday at Chamazi Stadium in an encounter that Uganda needed to win to scuttle Nigeria’s ambition.
After Nigeria on Wednesday defeated Angola to get a two straight win in the competition, which ordinarily should have qualified the team for the semi-finals, Uganda changed the complexion with a 3-0 defeat of Tanzania.
With that result, Nigeria needed at least draw. The two-time champions thus finished as winners of Group A.
In a pattern that has stuck with them since the tournament began, the Golden Eaglets created a basketful of chances, wasting them one after the other, starting from Akinkunmi Amoo’s poor touch after a sweet team move in the 17th minute.
Three minutes later, Wisdom Ubani lashed a shot narrowly over the bar from a free-kick, and at the other end, Uganda came close to taking the lead when Samson Kasozi headed the ball against the upright from a corner.
Nigeria had another narrow escape in the 25th minute as the East Africans put their feet on the throttle. Four minutes later, Amoo wasted too much time when clear on goal, and on the dot of half time, with the goal at his mercy, the striker headed the ball far away from goal.
Uganda’s goalkeeper Jack Komakech saved from Fawaz Abdullahi and Ubani within two minutes of the restart, and in the 58th minute, Andrew Kawooya rocked goalkeeper Sunday Stephen’s crossbar with a fierce drive from a free-kick.
In the 70th minute, Uganda drew blood as the Nigeria defenceline ball-watched from a corner kick. Davis Ssekajja’s pull only got a slight touch from Sunday Stephen, and substitute John Alou had the simplest task of nodding into an empty net.
Two minutes later, with the goalkeeper to beat, Wisdom Ubani – who got a brace against Tanzania on the opening day but is yet to add to that despite his high work rate and activity – wasted another clear chance. But a minute later, Nigeria were level as Ibraheem Jabaar read a long pass from substitute Olakunle Olusegun quite well and pushed it beyond onrushing goalkeeper Komakech with the Ugandan defence in no man’s land.
Two minutes later, a typical fierce Ubani shot was punched away by Komakech.
In Wednesday’s semi finals, the Golden Eaglets will tango with the second –placed team in Group B, which would be sorted out on Sunday as leaders Cameroon confront Senegal and second –placed Guinea tackle Morocco. Angola join Nigeria in the semi finals from Group A, following their 4-2 defeat of Tanzania, as the host nation ended up losing all three group phase matches, conceding 12 goals.