The Nigerian U-20 national team lost their quest for an eighth continental title to their West African opponents for the first time at this stage.
The Young Scorpions of Gambia are through to the final of the 2023 CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations after whipping Nigeria’s Flying Eagles 1-0 at the Cairo International Stadium on Monday evening, Soccernet.ng reports.
Nigeria held an exceptional edge over their West African neighbours, winning their two last meetings by an aggregate score of 3-0.
The Flying Eagles lacked confidence in their play in the opening minutes in Cairo and were penalized for it by the Young Scorpions.
Adama Bojang capitalized on a loose ball at the heart of the Flying Eagles’ defense to slam a firm finish past the Nigerian goalkeeper.
To their praise, Ladan Bosso’s boys stepped up their display after going behind, dominating ball possession, creating all the dangerous plays, and putting the Young Scorpions on the back foot.
However, the Flying Eagles’ absence of quality in the final third, especially a deficit of useful inter-play between the wingers and the striker, guaranteed they did not find the equalizer before the halftime break.
After the restart, the team failed to straighten up much, with their buildup play in defense and midfield not constructively utilized in the second half.
In the closing scenes, the Nigerian side was granted a penalty, but Ahmed Abdullahi only struck the post from the spot, to sum up the Flying Eagles’ poor evening.
The Gambia side was reduced to ten men with minutes left on the clock, but Flying Eagles could not find inspiration from anywhere, as they lost their second game at Egypt 2023.
Ladan Bosso’s boys will now face Tunisia in the third-place match, as the North Africans also lost their semifinal clash 3-0 to Senegal.