Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets on Wednesday in Constantine lost 0-1 for Morocco to earn all three points and sail into the quarter-finals of the Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations.
The Golden Eaglets wasted a basketful of opportunities in a match they dominated for large periods in the Algerian city.
An own goal by Tochukwu Ogboji as early as the second minute was all the Moroccans, who beat South Africa’s Amajimbo 2-0 on the opening day, needed.
They are now within a step of booking a spot at this year’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup, in spite of having their last group match against Zambia and then the quarter-finals.
As it was in their opening match against Zambia, the Eaglets created chance after chance but pathetically lacked precision in front of goal.
Abubakar Abdullahi should have done better than sending the ball skywards after Emmanuel Michael put him through in the 21st minute.
Team captain Precious Williams also failed to make hay as the North Africans mounted an impregnable rearguard.
Defender Yahaya Lawali, who was again picked as Man-of-the-Match in spite of Nigeria’s loss, shot towards the sky with a through ball in the 69th minute.
Substitutes Light Eke and Adewale Quadri provided the only real tests for the Moroccan goalkeeper in a frantic second period.
The Eaglets will now face South Africa on Saturday, needing victory in order to be assured of qualification to the last eight.
However, failure to win on Saturday may not end it all for them.
A good group phase statistics can help them emerge as one of the two third-place finishers who will join in the quarter-finals.