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WAFU U17

Nigeria face tough challenge in WAFU B U17 AFCON qualifying tournament kicks off

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Defending champions Nigeria gear up for a daunting task as they head into WAFU B U17 AFCON qualifying tournament that starts in Ghana on Wednesday.

Hosts Ghana kick-off the competition as they headline Group A where they are joined by tough contenders Cote d’Ivoire and Benin.

The Black Starlets, buoyed by home support, aim to showcase their prowess and secure a berth in the U17 AFCON finals.

As the tournament kicks off on Wednesday, all eyes will be on the opening clash between hosts Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire at the Legon Stadium in Accra.

Led by former international star Laryea Kingston, Ghana seeks to set the tone for a successful campaign on home soil.

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Drawn in Group B alongside formidable opponents Burkina Faso, Togo, and Niger, title holders Nigeria face a stern test to retain their crown.

The Golden Eaglets clinched the WAFU B U17 AFCON title in 2022 after a hard-fought victory over Burkina Faso in the regional final.

However, their journey to defend their title won’t be easy, with familiar rivals Togo and Niger also standing in their path.

With Burkina Faso boasting a strong performance in the last  U17 Africa Cup of Nations, finishing third, anticipation is high for thrilling encounters in Group B.

Nigeria will need to bring their A-game to navigate through this challenging group and secure a spot in next year’s U17 AFCON.

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Thursday’s fixtures will see Burkina Faso locking horns with Nigeria, while Togo battle Niger in Group B encounters.

With a spot in the U17 AFCON at stake, the WAFU B qualifying tournament promises excitement and drama as teams vie for supremacy from 15th to 28th May.

Groups:

Group A: Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin

Group B: Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Togo, Niger.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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WAFU U17

No jollof  rice at WAFU B U17 final match as  Ghana, Nigeria crash out in semi-finals

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The WAFU B U17 championship final match has avoided a ‘Jollof Rice’ controversy as rivals, Ghana and Nigeria have been booted out at the semi-finals.

Five-time world champions Nigeria and three-time world champions Ghana were eliminated from the WAFU B U17 Championship at the semi-final stage on Saturday, with Burkina Faso getting the better of the host nation and the Baby Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire narrowly sending the Eaglets packing.

Burkina Faso was the first team in the final after a 2-1 defeat of the Black Starlets. In the second semi-final, rampaging Cote d’Ivoire scored through Youbah Coulibaly off a defensive mix-up by Nigeria in the 54th minute and that strike separated both teams at the University of Accra Stadium.

It was a tough battle for the Eaglets as the Baby Elephants showed greater composure and hunger for the final ticket, and goalkeeper Dominic Chinedu came to the Eaglets’ rescue on several occasions.

The result means that the Golden Eaglets have failed to qualify for next year’s Africa U17 Cup of Nations, where Africa’s flag-bearers at next year’s FIFA U17 World Cup finals will emerge.   

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WAFU U17

WAFU B U17 Championship: Eaglets cruise into semi-finals, to face Baby Elephants

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Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets sailed majestically into the semi-finals of the ongoing WAFU B U17 Championship in Ghana with a 3-0 whiplash of Togo’s Baby Sparrow Hawks, that catapulted them to the top of group B and set the stage for a last-four confrontation with the Baby Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire. The match, which should have been played on Wednesday evening, was postponed to Thursday morning after the venue became water-logged following a heavy downpour.

Forward Abdulmuiz Adeleke came up big in the morning encounter with a brace, while Rapha Adams did his rising reputation no harm with his second of the tournament.

Adeleke fluffed an opportunity to put Nigeria ahead in the 6th minute, but made no mistake five minutes later with an assist from Abdulmuiz Oladimeji, to emburden a Togolese side that had lost its previous two games in the championship.

Adams, scorer of the lone goal that earned the five-time world champions all the points against Niger Republic on Sunday, got close in the 20th minute off a pass from Oladimeji, but his hit missed the target.

The forward would make no mistake 15 minutes later, nodding home a sublime pull-out by captain Simon Cletus.

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Adeleke got his brace and Nigeria’s third in the 57th minute, off another assist from captain Cletus.

The forward should have made it a hat-trick, but fluffed a penalty kick awarded the Eaglets in the 68th minute.

Nigeria’s Edward Ochigbo was selected as Player of the Match.

Victory meant the Golden Eaglets finished as group B winners, following Burkina Faso’s 1-0 defeat of Niger Republic in the other match of the pool.

Nigeria will now clash with Cote d’Ivoire in the second semi-final on Saturday evening (7pm Nigeria time), after the first semi-final between Ghana and Burkina Faso.

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WAFU B U17 Championship: Eaglets to go to Togo match with three points in mind, says Manu Garba

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Coach Manu Garba has reiterated that Nigeria’s U17 boys will go for a win in Wednesday’s group B final encounter in Accra even though a draw will be good enough to see the five-world champions through to the semi finals.

“We are not here to be drawing matches. I am not happy that we drew our first match against Burkina Faso. We should have scored a number of goals especially towards the end but we cannot be crying over spilt milk.

“We got the three points against Niger Republic, and we have to keep at the winning mentality. We cannot afford to gamble; a win is what we are going for. Even though they lost their first two matches, we cannot afford to under-rate the Togolese. They got two goals against Niger Republic, even though they eventually lost, so they are not a team to be taken for granted.”

Cup holders Golden Eaglets will finish top of the pile if they win against the Togolese at the Accra Sports Stadium and fellow group leaders Burkina Faso fail to get the better of Niger Republic at the University of Accra Stadium in games that will be played simultaneously.

Victory for Nigeria, and draw or defeat for the Burkinabes, will mean the Eaglets avoid in-form Black Starlets of Ghana, who are expected to top group A, in the last-four confrontations.

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