BY KUNLE SOLAJA
Nigeria’s Flying Eagles are targeting their 13th podium finish in 23 editions as the 2023 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations reaches an anti-climax this Friday.
They had won the championship for a record seven times and were twice runners up. On three ocassions they placed third making them to have been on the podium on 12 instances.
Today, Nigeria will face Tunisia in the losers final match which more often than not a no-contest for teams that hitherto had their eyes on the title.
It is often a compensation for semi-final loss. For Nigeria, this is the sixth time that the Flying Eagles will play the losers final.
They were involved in previous third place matches against Ethiopia in 1979, Algeria in 1981, Mali in 1995 and 2013, South Africa in 2009 and 2019.
In those instances, the Flying Eagles won just thrice in 1995 against Mali in Lagos, 2009 against South Africa in Rwanda and in 2013 again Mali again in Algeria.
They share the honours of three-time third pkaced team with Egypt – 1993, 2001 and 2011. A win this Friday will make the Flying Eagles the most successful loser finalists.
They have however lost the third place match once against South Africa in 2019 in Niger Republic when they crashed out of podium finish via 5-3 penalty shoot-out loss after 0-0 in regulation time.