Nigeria’s U-20 male team, Flying Eagles failed to reach the final of the ongoing Africa U-20 Cup of Nations (AFCON) following a 4-3 defeat on penalty to Junior Eagles of Mali in their semifinal match, yesterday. After a goalless first half in a keenly contested semifinal, both teams continued to struggle in search of a goal, with Mali breaking the deadlock in the 78th minute through Mamadou Traore. But their celebration did not last long as Paschal Durugbor scored eight minutes later to level the score for Coach Paul Aigbogun-led Eagles.

The game went into extra time, and none of the sides could add to their goal tally in the hard-fought contest. In the shootout, Ikuowen Udoh, Mohammed Jamil, Effiong Maxwell all converted their kicks for the Flying Eagles, while Valentine Ozornwafor and Aniekeme Okon missed theirs. The victory was a sweet revenge for Junior Eagles of Mali for their loss to the Flying Eagles also on penalties at the U-20 WAFU Cup tournament in Lome, Togo in December, last year.

The Flying Eagles won the Group A that had host nation Niger Republic, South Africa and Burundi, finishing with seven points. The team had defeated Burundi and Niger Republic while drawing with South Africa, while Mali finished second in Group B with six points after victories over Burkina Faso and Ghana, and defeat by Senegal.

Speaking ahead of yesterday’s semifinal match, Coach Paul Aigbogun said having met the first target of a FIFA World Cup ticket, his boys will play the semifinal match without any pressure and it turned out to be a disappointing result for his team.

The 7-time African champions will face South Africa in the 3rd Place match on Sunday in Niamey. South Africa lost to Senegal by a lone (own) goal

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