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Nigeria clinches spot in 2023 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations following victory over Ivory Coast

Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets overcame an early penalty kick goal from Ivory Coast to push back with three unanswered goals and win 3-1 in their semifinal matchup at the WAFU-B U-17 Championship on Tuesday. Emmanuel Micheal scored two goals off set pieces and Aboubakar Abdullahi scored the other for Nigeria, who are through to the 2023 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations with the result and will duel with the winner of Tuesday’s later semifinal between Burkina Faso and hosts Ghana for top honors at the regional competition.

The Golden Eaglets got off to a nightmare start in the opening minute when Ivory Coast attacker Yan Diomandé snuck by defender Miracle Ogwor before being pulled down in the penalty area. A penalty kick was awarded to Les Éléphanteaux and Diomandé stepped up to take the responsibility, curling a perfect spot kick into the top corner.

However, Nigeria fought back and grabbed an equalizer just after the half hour mark. An enterprising run down the right wing saw Yahaya Lawali fouled for a dangerous free kick opportunity. Micheal delivered an inswinging ball with his left foot that bounced in the six-yard box before sneaking past Ivorian goalkeeper Mohamed Cissé. Soon before halftime Micheal did it again with a direct free kick from 23 yards out that was too much for Cissé to handle.

Set pieces were the source of Ivory Coast’s downfall as a third goal from a dead ball situation put the match away for Nigeria. A 61st minute service from the right wing picked out Abdullahi’s run and he delivered a powerful header past Cissé. Soon after Ivory Coast’s Market Moustapha was given a red card for a challenge and there was no way back for the Ivorians.

Highlights of the first semifinal are below.

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