By Olusola Jide Jide
Nigeria’s U17 football team, Golden Eaglets, came close to a stunning comeback from three goals down before losing 2-3 to their Ivorian counterparts in Monday night’s final of the WAFU U17 Cup Tournament in the Togolese capital, Lome.
It was fight to finish at the main bowl of Stade de Kégué in Lome as the Ivorians returned home with the prestigious silverware.
Nigeria, who reached the final following a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in the semis, looked to change the narrative having started the tournament on a poor note.
The Baby Elephants, who had won all their previous three games in the tournament (1-0 over Nigeria; 3-1 over Ghana and; 1-0 over Niger Republic), opened the scoring in the 15th minute after Sindou Kone poked home the lead to stun the Nigerians.
And in the 32nd minute, goalkeeper Destiny made yet another brilliant save to deny Ivorians another goal following a sensational strike from Charles Likpa.
Desperate for an equaliser, Nigeria came close in the 43rd minute but Christian Nwachukwu saw his long-ranged effort slightly over the bar, to set up a tantalizing second 45 minutes.
Seydou Traore compounded the woes of the Eaglets to make it 3-0 in the closing stages.
However, late drama ensued after the Eaglets pulled themselves together and scored two quick goals late in the game to earn a respectable result which proved too late as both teams proudly picked tickets to the 2021 Africa U17 Cup of Nations holding in Morocco 13th -31st March.
Earlier in the evening, Burkina Faso’s Baby Etalons, who lost 0-1 to Nigeria in the semifinals, grabbed the tournament’s bronze medals after an 11-10 penalty shoot-out win over Niger Republic following 1-1 draw in the classification match.
The Golden Eaglets’ contingent is expected back in Nigeria on Tuesday.