AFCON U17: Three Talking points from Nigeria’s victory against Zambia



Coach Nduka Ugbade opted to play a 4-4-2 formation against Zambia, pairing Daniel Favour and Owoyemi Usman as the attacking duo.

At first sight the obvious question was against a Zambian team that set up in the 4-3-3 formation where was the width going to come from? But, just 15 minutes into the game the answer was very evident as Ugbade opted to push his full-backs forward to provide the width and cause the Zambian defenders all sort of problems.


Nduka Ugbade
Nigeria U17 MNT head Coach, Nduka Ugbade. Photo | Twitter (totorimaster)

Lawali Yahaya on the left and side and Olaleke Jeremiah on the right were a joy to watch and they were very instrumental to the win; both defensively and in attack, so much so that Lawali earned the Player of the match award and his personal battles with Zimba Marcel was also intriguing.

Lawali Yahaya full back for Nigeria.
Lawali Yahaya was voted MOTM in Nigeria’s opening group game against Zambia at the U17 Africa Cup of Nations. Photo | Twitter (totorimaster)

In a game that was especially tough for the Golden Eaglets the tactical move of Coach Nduka Ugbade proved to be decisive and with the game against Morocco coming next he will have to solve talking point number two as fast as possible.

Endurance and Strength:

Nigeria was off to a flyer at the beginning of the contest that after the first 15 minutes, they could have easily gone 2 goals up as it was a case of missed chances than a case of lack of opportunities. The intensity dropped afterwards, but Nigeria was by a distance the better team.

When they took the lead through Daniel Favour it was totally deserved, but the real problem was how weak and tired the players were in the final 15 to 20 minutes.

Yes, it is understandable that they are young, but football matches can be decided at any stage of a game; especially at the end and this can be a course of concern.

That endurance and strength would have made come from training routine, camping length and the pre-tournament friendly games against other national teams, to build the mental and physical intensity, but the Eaglets played most of their preparatory games against Academies in Nigeria. There opponent, Zambia, played against countries and were still looking sharp and fit for the entire 90 minutes, but were undone by a superior game strategy and quality of players.

Zambia U17 MNT
Zambia U17 MNT before the match against Nigeria. Photo | Twitter (totorimaster)

A lot to learn:

While the performance of the Eaglets was commendable, the Atlas Lions were a more impressive side and looked very well drilled.

They easily dispatched South Africa without any major worries or concerns and will be looking to do the same against Nigeria in the next fixture.

The game against Morocco is certainly going to be their toughest test yet.


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