Saturday, December 12, 2015 10:19 pm
Samson Siasia and his Dream Team VI made history in Senegal on Saturday as they won for Nigeria her first-ever U-23 Africa Cup of Nations laurel at the Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor, Dakar.
The team, who had earlier won the Olympic ticket, defeated hard fighting Algeria 2-1 in a highly entertaining encounter that saw the Nigerian team scoring their two goals through Warri Wolves striker Etebo Peter Oghenekaro, the first coming through a penalty in the 14 minute, while he scored the second through a solo run in the 40th minute.
Nigeria could have run away with the two goals but for an own goal by Oduduwa SegunTope whose defensive blunder saw him nodding home into his net a Zinedine Ferhat’s dangerous cross from the right. This gave the Algerians their only goal of the crucial final.
The match started with Nigeria’s daring attacking football which could have paid off with a goal in the first five minutes through Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup star, Victor Osimhen, who was given his first starting shirt by Coach Siasia.
Mother luck smiled on the Nigerian lads when Etebo ran into the opponents’ goal area and was brought down by Ayoub Abdellaoui for a penalty. He scored the penalty by sending the Algerian goalkeeper the wrong side and netted the match opener.
The Dream Team made frantic efforts to get the second goal after the opener, but always met stiff resistance from the Algerians until Oduduwa’s own goal gave the opponents the equaliser.
Etebo, however, took his competition’s goal tally to five after a super solo run from the center circle to restore Nigeria’s lead in the 40th minute before the first half ended.
What could have been an equaliser for the Algerians happened to be a mirage when Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Emmanuel Daniel’s superb save of Ferhat Zinedine in the 68th minute dashed the opponents’ hope of making any head way in the match.
The Dream Team ensured that they defended the two goals lead, taking control of the possession until the referee blew the final whistle.
With five goals in his kitty, Warri Wolves star, Etebo won the golden boot of the tournament.
South Africa had earlier in the third place match beat the hosts Senegal 3-1 by penalties after a barren draw in the regulation time, winning the third African ticket for the Rio Olympic Games.