Nigeria 2-0 Egypt
Ivory Coast 0-1 S. Africa
Nigeria and South Africa won their Group B openers in the Africa Youth Championship played yesterday at Nyamirambo Regional Stadium.
Record five-time champions, Nigeria beat three-time winners Egypt 2-0 in the day’s first game with goals coming from Kingsley Udoh and Alfa Yakubu in the 35th and 55th minutes respectively.
In the second game, South Africa stunned Ivory Coast 1-0 courtesy of a Nyanda Mduduzi’s strike in 41st minute of the first half.
The Flying Eaglets displayed finest football dominating the Egyptians with good inter-passing but wasted several scoring chances. They even had a goal disallowed by the Rwandan referee Michel Gasigwa.
Skipper Lukman Haruna and Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon star Ibrahim Rabiu caused headache for the Egyptian defender throughout.
The left-footed and pin-sized Rabiu created several goal scoring opportunities for Osei Bolaji but the latter put all to waste and was later substituted by Abe Oluwasina.
Yakubu as well as Haruna were in superb form and the pair’s strikes were denied by custodian Aly Mohammed on several occasions.
Abdou Mohammed and Rashed Ahmed had the best opportunities for Egypt but couldn’t find the back of the net.
After the match, head coach Isah Ladan Bosso hailed his players for their performance against a talented the young Pharaohs.
He said, “We played well and I think we deserved to win by a more respectable margin but I hope to can maintain the same spirit in the next matches.”
His counterpart Egyptian Soukup Miroslav was disappointed by his players, “I don’t know why my players were nervous. We came into the match on the back of good preparation and the confidence high.”
Nigeria’s second game will be against South Africa on January 22 and play their last group game against the Alain Guamene’s Ivory Coast on January 22.
Guamene’s side succumbed to a 1-0 loss to South Africa. Masango created South Africa’s goal.
The Ivorians who won bronze at the maiden WAFU Cup fielded probably the youngest players of the tournament, 14-year-old Topio Coulibaly in the midfield but he was outsmarted by South Africa’s Mandla Masango. South Africa’s head coach Letsoaka Serame was happy with the win but remained unsatisfied with his team’s over all performance.
South Africa is one of the sides that have not attracted any mention in the run up to the competition but no team in the championship should underrate Mandela boys.
Qualifying for the AYC is no mean feat and for the Amaglug to make it this far showed that they had the fire for such big occasion.
Two teams will move to the semifinal stage from each group, as well as automatically qualify for the U-20 World Cup set to be held in Egypt.
The Flying Eagles under Godwin Uwua were beaten finalists in the 2007 edition staged and won by Congo Brazzaville.