Nigeria on Friday night emerged champions of the West Africa B Zone after they defeated the Young Squirrels of Benin Republic 3-1 in the final of the WAFU B U20 Championship in Niamey, capital of Niger Republic.
The Flying Eagles started their campaign with a 2-0 spanking of tournament title holders and continental champions Ghana, before a 2-2 draw with Burkina Faso that took them to the last four. In the semi finals, they were stretched to the limit by an Ivorian team with a blistering pace and superb turn, but edged the tie 2-1 after extra time.
With U20 Afcon qualification ticket secured, the Flying Eagles were anxious to lift the regional title for the first time since the inception of the qualification tournament in 2018.
Tolulope Ojo, who would emerge Man of the Match of the fast-paced Final, set Nigeria on the path to victory in the 38th minute with a marvelous goal at the Stade General Seyni Kountché.
After a slender first half lead, the Remo Stars forward went on to make it two for Nigeria in the 62 nd minute to further cement the lead of the seven-time champions.
16 minutes from regulation time, Maikunkele striker Ibrahim Muhammad stole the ball as the Beninoise goalkeeper tried to launch an attack, and then heaved the ball over the goalie’s head to increase the advantage to 3-0.
However, the Squirrels made a late fightback and eventually scored a consolation goal with few minutes to the end but the Flying Eagles preserve their two-goal lead to guarantee the triumph over the Beninoise.
Tolulope Ojo was crowned Man of the Match following his impactful brace for Ladan Bosso’s men.
Regardless of the final outcome, Nigeria and Benin Republic will represent WAFU B zone at the 2023 Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Egypt.