The U-17 National Team, Golden Eaglets, on Sunday made certain of a place at next year’s African U-17 Championship in Morocco with a 2-0 whiplash of Junior Eagles of Mali away in Bamako.
Widely touted as the future of Nigeria football, Manu Garba’s teen terrors took charge of their return leg, final qualifying fixture against the Malians right from the first blast of Guinean referee Ahmed Sekou Toure’s whistle, and in spite of the raucous home crowd at the Stade Mamadou Konate.
The bean-pole figure of effervescent midfielder Alhassan Ibrahim, scorer of the second in the Eaglets’ 2-0 home win in Calabar on November 18, tormented the hosts all evening, and was inevitably involved in the first goal by big striker Success Isaac after 23 minutes.
Bernard Bulbwa wiped clean any hopes the home crowd might be nursing of a spectacular comeback by their team, when he scored the second goal 10 minutes after resumption. Nigeria qualified with a 4-0 aggregate.
Morocco will be Nigeria’s first outing at Africa’s kindergarten party since lifting the trophy in Togo in 2007.
The Golden Eaglets failed to qualify for the 2009 championship that took place in Algeria and the 2011 finals that were held in Rwanda.
Sunday’s win in Bamako also capped a sunshine year for Nigeria football, in which all the National Teams qualified for all major tournaments for which they took part in qualifying campaigns.
Other countries that have qualified for Morocco 2013, which Draw Ceremony will be staged alongside that of the Algeria 2013 African Youth Championship in Cairo next Sunday, are: Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Congo-Brazzaville and host Morocco.