Nigeria’s U20 national team played out a thrilling 2-2 draw against Burkina Faso on Wednesday to seal passage to the semifinals of the 2022 WAFU B Championship in the Republic of Niger.
The Ladan Bosso-tutored Eagles defeated Ghana 2-0 on Sunday in their opening Group B match and knew a win over the young Stallions would see them advance to the tournament’s next phase.
And a win they almost got, thanks to Ibrahim Muhammad’s bizarre 24th-minute goal and Ibrahim Yahaya’s second-half spot-kick. But twice the Burkinabe lads pegged them back as both teams eventually settled for a share of the spoils.
Young attacker Muhammad opened the flood gates in the 24th minute. The Nigerian forward was under the close watch of two Burkinabe defenders around the corner flag. Still, he somehow managed to send a cross into the danger area and was himself stunned to see the ball deceive the goalkeeper and go in off the inside of the post.
Burkina Faso grew into the encounter and should have equalised just before the break, but a brilliant reaction save by goalkeeper Nathaniel Nwosu kept out a headed effort from a corner. Nwosu had also impressed against Ghana’s Black Stars on Sunday.
The young goalie, however, conceded his first goal in Niamey after he was beaten from the penalty spot by Abdel Rachid Zagré following a clumsy Nigerian foul in the danger area.
But ten minutes later, the Flying Eagles regained the lead also via a penalty kick, Ibrahim Yahaya stepping up to smash the ball past the opponent’s goalkeeper.
Some sloppy Flying Eagles defending, however, allowed Burkina Faso to equalise for the second time in the encounter, denying the team the victory that would have guaranteed top spot in Group B.
Despite the draw, Nigeria are through to the semifinals and will secure top spot if Ghana avoid a defeat when they square up against Burkina Faso in the final group match on Saturday.