Nigeria’s Flying Eagles were knocked out of the U20 Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo, Egypt on Monday night, losing 1-0 to The Gambia in the semi-finals.
Adama Bojang scored the only goal of the all-West African encounter in the seventh minute, as the Junior Scorpions booked their final spot against Senegal.
Nigeria had come into the match on the back of three consecutive wins, having lost their opening game against Senegal, while The Gambia had yet to concede a goal in the competition, having won all five of their matches.
The Flying Eagles found themselves behind early on, as Onuche Ogbelu’s pass was intercepted and Bojang finished past Chijioke Aniagboso in the Nigerian goal. Despite a flurry of corner kicks in the first half, Nigeria failed to threaten the Gambian goal and went into the break trailing.
Ladan Bosso’s men were then handed a lifeline when substitute Ahmed Abdullahi won a penalty kick following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review. However, the Belgium-based forward was unable to make the most of his opportunity, his spot kick crashing against the post.
The Gambia were reduced to ten men at the death when Haruna Njie was dismissed after a second yellow card, but they held on for the win and will face Senegal in the final. Nigeria will play Tunisia for third place after the North Africans were defeated 3-0 by Senegal in the first semi-final.
It was a disappointing end for Nigeria at the U20 AFCON, but there is sure to be more opportunities for the Flying Eagles to make their mark on the international stage in the future.