Road to Rio: Nigeria clinch U23 AFCON crown

by Samm Audu

Sat December 12, 23:05

Nigeria on Saturday night clinched the 2015 U23 AFCON after they beat Algeria 2-1 in the final in Dakar, Senegal.

Nigeria, Algeria and South Africa, who pipped hosts Senegal on penalties in a third-place final, will automatically represent Africa in next year's Rio Olympics.

Two goals by the tournament’s top scorer Oghenekaro Etebo was only halved by an own goal by Nigeria defender Segun Oduduwa to leave this contest delicately balanced.

However, there were no goals in the second half of a very exciting rematch after both teams played out a goalless draw in the group phase of this same competition.

Nigeria were rewarded for their daring attacking football and they could have gone ahead in the first five minutes through FIFA U17 World Cup hotshot Victor Osimhen, who was getting his first start in this championship after substitute appearances in the previous two games.

However, the Nigeria Dream Team VI finally took the lead after 14 minutes from the penalty spot after Etebo drove into the Algeria goal area and was brought down by Ayoub Abdellaoui for a penalty.

The lively Warri Wolves midfielder dusted himself up to tuck the penalty home after sending goalkeeper Abdelkadir Sahli the wrong way.

Nigeria continued to boss the possession, but Algeria fought back to draw level on the half hour, when Zinedine Ferhat’s dangerous cross from the right was headed home by Oduduwa into his own net.

Etebo will then restored Nigeria’s lead in the 41st minute, when he again drove into the Algerian defence before firing past the onrushing goalkeeper for his fifth goal of the competition.

After the interval, the North Africans chased the game and they could have drawn level in the 69th minute from the penalty spot after Oduduwa brought down Algeria's Abdelhakim Amokrane inside his box, but goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel saved Ferhat’s spot kick.

Ferhat inspired several incursions into the Nigeria defence, but tried as they did the Algerians could not salvage a result by full time.

Nigeria starting XI - Emmanuel Daniel – Ndifreke Effiong, Sincere Seth, Segun Oduduwa, Amaefule Chizoba – Azubuike Okechukwu (Skipper), Usman Mohammed, Oghenekaro Etebo, Tiongoli Tonbra (Kufre Ebong 69) – Victor Osimhen (Bature Yaro 70) , Junior Ajayi


now in Rio 2016, nigerians await gold as it happened in Atlanta 96. congrats, the Dream Team

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