Monday, April 25, 2011


Nigeria on Sunday scored two second half goals to qualify for the semifinal of the ongoing Africa Youth Championship in South Africa and FIFA U-20 World Cup holding later in the year in Colombia.

The Flying Eagles defeated the Scorpions of Gambia 2-0 to finish second behind Cameroon in Group B after the match decided at the Milpark Stadium in Johannesburg.

Goals from Almeria midfielder Stanley Okoro (67th minute) and Ramon Azeez (78th minute) gave Nigeria the much needed points to remain second in the group and secure a semifinal berth and a World Cup ticket.

In the other match of the group, Cameroon forced Ghana to a 1-1 draw at the Dobsonville Stadium. Ghana, the defending champions, therefore crashed out of the competition.

Nigeria missed several scoring chances in the encounter but the Gambians did not fair better as both sides made unfruitful attempts at goal.

Flying Eagles coach John Obuh said he was worried about the misses but was happy the team qualified.

“The important thing is that we won and we have achieved our first mission,” Obuh said.

“The players played better because they were able to overcome the mental challenge they had after the loss to Cameroon. Some of them were also playing with injuries. They were just managing and I hope that before our next game they would have recovered.

“We missed some players in the team. But we are expecting Ahmed Musa to join us before the semifinal match to strengthen the team.”

Gambia coach Lamin Saar blamed the loss to poor officiating and his side’s poor preparation for the tournament.

“I don’t blame my players for the loss. We had a poor preparation for this competition.”

This is the poorest preparation a Gambian team have had for an international competition,” Saar told our correspondent after the match.

“Nigeria played very well but I cannot say if they will win the competition. The other teams are also good for the title.”

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