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AFCON U-20: Senegal edge Nigeria in battle between Group A favorites

In a 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations Group A duel between two teams expected to be among the favorites to win the competition, Senegal defeated Nigeria 1-0 on Sunday to kick off their campaign with three points. Souleymane Faye scored the only goal of the match late in the first half to give Les Lionceaux the edge in a mostly even clash. Senegal will look to clinch qualification for the knockout stages on Wednesday with a win against Mozambique while Nigeria face hosts Egypt with plenty at stake.

Both teams took some time to find their footing but the match began to open up after the opening twenty minutes. The first opportunity fell to the Flying Eagles of Nigeria when a turnover deep in the Senegalese half led to Ibrahim Muhammad setting up Olamilekan Adams, whose shot was well blocked by a scrambling Senegalese defense.

Shortly following a failed free kick attempt from the Nigerians was when the Lion Cubs pounced to open the scoring in the 40th minute from an incisive counter attack. Mamadou Camara collected the ball and lofted a long pass to find the run of Samba Diallo on the left wing. The Senegal captain received and cut inside before passing to Pape Demba Diop at the edge of the penalty area. Diop’s shot was well saved by Nigeria goalkeeper Nathaniel Nwosu but Faye was on hand to smash in the rebound and put Senegal ahead.

After halftime it was Senegal who looked more dangerous and in control. 2022 African Nations Championship star Lamine Camara nearly doubled the lead when he was set up for a shot by FC Metz teammate Papa Diallo but his effort went wide. Mame Ngom got around Nwosu in the final seconds but sent his shot over the bar. Nigeria’s unfortunate day ended with the sending off of substitute forward Ahmed Abdullahi who collected two yellow cards in second half stoppage time for an early shower.

Highlights of the match are below.

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