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Sports News of Sunday, 26 February 2023


U20 AFCON: Five observations from Flying Eagles' 2-0 triumph over Mozambique's Mambas

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The Nigerian U-20 national team took their Mozambican counterparts to the cleaners on Saturday evening to advance to the quarterfinals of the CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations.

Here are the major things to note from the Flying Eagles’ 2-0 victory. 

1. Flying Eagles dominated from start to finish

Nigeria, seven-time winners of the competition, were always the heavy favourite to win this encounter, and they did not disappoint.

Mozambique showed flashes of intelligent movement and control but never really troubled the Flying Eagles goalkeeper, who enjoyed a work-free day.

2. Nigerian lads made the hard thing easy and the easy things hard
The Flying Eagles scored two wonder goals in the first half of the encounter after missing a few simple, clear-cut chances.

Teen striker Abubakar missed a couple of opportunities when well placed inside the opponent’s box, only for his teammates to score potential goals of the tournament from outside of the area.

If they are to go far, the Flying Eagles need to rely less on spectacular goals and make a habit of slotting home the easy goalscoring chances.

3. Agbalaka continues to impress

While the focus has been trained on the Flying Eagles strikers and midfielders to steal the headlines, it is, however, the young left full-back who is stealing the hearts of Nigerian fans in Egypt.

Solomon Agbalaka scored that bullet header that gave the Flying Eagles that crucial win over hosts Egypt on matchday two.

Once again, the defender, while being solid in defence, contributed to the attack as he claimed the assist to Mohammed’s second goal.

4. Nigeria still need to do better

The Flying Eagles won convincingly at the end, as expected, against a team that had never won a game at the U20 AFCON.

But the frailties in the Ladan Bosso-tutored side are too many to ignore: unforced errors, misplaced passes, lack of cohesion in midfield, and a couple of misfiring strikers.

Nigeria relied on two moments of individual brilliance to overcome lowly Mozambique. More is needed to win the championship. 

5. Kudos to the defence

While the Mozambicans lacked quality in attack, the Flying Eagles’ defenders still kept their concentration and did their job well.

The two centre-backs mopped up dangers well, dealt with the ball impressively under pressure, and kept their second clean sheet of the tournament.

They will need that solidity in the knockout rounds of the tournament.