Nigeria Under-17 have qualified for the semi-finals of the 2021 Wafu U-17 Championship taking place in Togo.
The Golden Eaglets had bowed 1-0 to Cote d’Ivoire in their opening Group B match courtesy of Charles Mezia’s 77th-minute strike. In their next fixture against Ghana, they took the lead through Joseph Arumala before their arch-rivals equalised to ensure the game ended 1-1 – a result that put them on the brink of elimination.
Even at that, Fatai Amoo’s boys scaled through as the Black Starlets crumbled 3-1 to Les Petits Elephants at the Stade Municipal, Lome.
With this result, the five-time world champions are through to the last four of the competition alongside the 2013 African U17 champions.
To reach the final, Nigeria must negotiate their way past Group A winners Burkina Faso on Friday while Cote d’Ivoire must get past Niger Republic on the same day at the Stade Kegue.
Hosts Togo were disqualified from the championship on Sunday after two of their players failed the Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests (MRI).
“This decision is made in accordance with article 27.4 of the regulations of the U17 Africa Cup of Nations which stipulates that “if after having carried out the age eligibility test (MRI) for a participating team and a player ‘is revealed ineligible, the participating team will be disqualified,” a statement from the organisers read.
The regional tournament serves as qualifiers for the 2021 Africa U17 Cup of Nations billed for Morocco. There, Africa’s four representatives for the Fifa U17 World Cup in Peru would be determined.
The Golden Eaglets finished fourth at the 2019 U17 Afcon hosted by Tanzania.
At the global fiesta held in Brazil, the team led by Manu Garba crashed out after the Round of 16 following their 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands with Misjonne Hansen finding the net on three occasions inside Estadio Olimpico, Goiania.
Nigeria are the most successful country in the world at this level of competition having won the U17 World Cup for a record five times.
Their last triumph was achieved at the 2015 edition when they silenced Mali 2-0 in the final thanks to second-half strikes from Victor Osimhen and Funsho Bamgboye.