Nigeria are off to a winning start at the 2023 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations after a hard fought 1-0 victory over Zambia in Constantine to kick off action from Group B. Favour Daniel fired in the game’s only goal in the second half to give the Golden Eaglets three points against a Zambian side who grew into the match but came up just short of earning a point on their debut in Algeria. Nigeria’s second match will be against Morocco on Wednesday while Zambia face fellow COSAFA representative South Africa.
Two-time champions Nigeria got off to the better start but their attempts at an opening goal came up against a strong performance from Zambian goalkeeper Shadreck Kalyati. The 15-year-old keeper did well to claw away a close range header from Abubakar Abdullahi in the 17th minute before collecting Abdullahi’s weak rebound attempt and then produced an excellent kick save on an effort from Precious Williams close to halftime.
Zambia found their stride towards the end of the first half and nearly snatched the lead against the run of play when Emmanuel Mwanza curled a shot off the crossbar that had Nigeria keeper Richard Odoh clearly beaten. The improved play from the Zambians continued on into the second half with Sekanji Siame firing over in the 64th minute after a corner kick fell kindly for the defender in the penalty area.
However it was the Nigerians who found the net in the 76th minute after a corner kick led to a cross that pinballed around the Zambian penalty area before Daniel pounced to sweep into the goal. Nigeria could have doubled their lead late on when a penalty kick was awarded in stoppage time but Kalyati saved Light Eke’s weakly rolled spot kick.
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