bBy Duro Ikhazuagbe
Côte d’Ivoire did Nigeria a huge favour yesterday as the Baby Elephants defeated Ghana’s Black Starlets 3-1 to pave way for the Golden Eaglets to progress to the semi finals of the WAFU B Under-17 Tournament in Lomé, Togo.
After Eaglets were defeated 1-0 in their opening game and were held 1-1 by Ghana, Nigeria’s dream of qualifying for the last four stage became dimmed.
Nigeria therefore needed the Ivorians to defeat Ghana by 2-0 to give Eaglets the lifeline to semis.
The Baby Elephants did just that in style inside the Stade Municipal in Lomé, sending the Ghanaians home with a 3-1 final scoreline.
Hope of what to come started early in the match yesterday as Baby Elephants raced into the lead after only nine minutes and consolidated at 2-0as the match wore on.
But the Starlets, themselves two-time champions of the world, pegged back their neighbours to leave Nigeria’s chances on the wire.
Both Eaglets and their Ghanaian counterparts had scored through penalty kicks on Saturday. It was the time for the Ivorians to benefit, as they netted from six yards with 20 minutes to go to make it a commanding 3-1 win.
Five-time world champions Nigeria will now take on Burkina Faso, another youth football powerhouse, in the semi finals slated for Friday at Togo’s main stadium, Stade Kegue.
Hosts Togo were thrown out of the tournament on Sunday after two of their players failed the mandatory MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) tests conducted by the tournament’s medical team.
With Togo’s results in the tournament annulled, Burkina Faso soared to the top of Group A to face Nigeria.
Same night, Group B winners Cote d’Ivoire will take on Niger Republic as from 8pmTogo time (9pmNigeria time).
The winners of the semi finals will battle for the diadem on Wednesday next weekat the Stade Kegue, and also qualify for the CAF U17 Cup of Nations billed for 13th-31st Marchin Morocco.