AFCON U17: Three talking points from Nigeria’s victory against South Africa


Nigeria sealed qualification to the Quarter finals of the U17 Africa Cup of Nations after seeing off South Africa 3-2 in a nervy encounter that required the Eaglets to come back twice before claiming the win.

It’s good news for Nigeria’s Coach, Nduka Ugbade, and his boys as they are now one win away from clinching World Cup qualification.


Here are three talking points from the encounter.


Goals finally but more work in attack:

Many might not be talking about how bad the Eaglets were attacking-wise because they scored three goals but in all reality, it could have been 6, 7, or even 10 goals had the Eaglets converted at least half of the chances they created.

Against South Africa almost every attacking opportunity the Eaglets had always resulted in at least a shot, and had the Eaglets started the game on the strong foot they would not have faced the pensive affair they had with South Africa.

Finishing is clearly a problem and in the quarter-finals stage, regardless of the opposition they face, they must fire and fire convincingly.

The team is a very good team that leaves us optimistic about the future, but they must be ruthless and effective in the opposition box.

New problems in defense:

Getting goals against South Africa wasn’t always going to be a problem, as they are criminally bad in defense. They conceded two goals each from Morocco and Zambia and they were always expected to concede against Nigeria, but in the last article I pointed out how the Eaglets should try to avoid a high scoring affair against.

The Eaglets almost went the route of Zambia in a thrilling encounter that produced five goals.

In the quarter finals or even semi finals, the team will come up against a better side, and the issues in defense need to be sorted out.

The defence was culpable in the two goals conceded against South Africa. They were caught napping on both occasions, and that lack of discipline may come from the fact that the players considered themselves favorites against South Africa and underestimated their opponents.

Regardless of what transpired, coach Nduka Ugbade will need to sort out this defensive problem and ensure the team plays compactly at the back with discipline and focus.

Operation World Cup ticket:

Nigeria have a chance of qualifying for the FIFA U17 World Cup should they make it to the semi-finals, and Coach Nduka Ugbade must let the boys know that qualifying for the tournament is the topmost priority – even ahead of winning the AFCON tournament.

Nigeria will face either Burkina Faso or Cameroon in the quarter finals, but it could be overwhelming to win the game, however, the Golden Eaglets must ensure that complacency does not set in as they must get the job done against whoever they face.

After securing qualification to the World Cup we can now talk about winning the U17 AFCON tournament.


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