Nigeria have qualified for next year's Rio Olympics after they pipped hosts Senegal in Wednesday’s U23 AFCON semi-final in Dakar cour...
Nigeria have qualified for next year's Rio Olympics after they pipped hosts Senegal in Wednesday’s U23 AFCON semi-final in Dakar courtesy of a 77th minute penalty by skipper Oghenekaro Etebo. PThey will now await the winners of the second semi-final between South Africa and Algeria for Saturday’s championship game.
A mix-up between goalkeeper Seydou and Thioune in the Senegal defence let in Kufre Ebong, but before he could shoot into an empty goal Thioune held on to the ball to be sent off for a professional foul. Etebo held his nerve to send goalkeeper the wrong way and Nigeria all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics.Nigeria’s other super hero was goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel, who saved a penalty in first half stoppage time for Dream Team VI to hold hosts Senegal 0-0 after the first period. Daniel fouled Dieng Chekhou inside his own box, but he made amends when he saved Sory Keita’s penalty moments later. The Enugu Rangers goalkeeper also pulled off a big save in the 13th minute, when he came face-to-face with Keita. He also saved in the 36th minute, when he held a downward header from inside the 18-yard box.
Nigeria also had their chances to get on the scoresheet with the most notable being in the 42nd minute, when Junior Ajayi put the ball through the legs of the Senegal goalkeeper and captain, but Ebong was denied on the goalline by a meaty tackle by a defender of Senegal. In the second half, Senegal continued to dominate, recording as many as 11 shots on target as against four by Nigeria. The game struggled to rise to its high billing but in the 59th minute, Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel used his foot to deny goal-bound Ismaila Sarr. The home team did not have the cutting edge even when they introduced Belgium-based forward Sidy Sarr and they will now have to try and qualify for the Olympics by winning the third-place match on Saturday.