Super Eagles’ Head Coach José Santos Peseiro said he was impressed after scorching shots from the boots of forwards Samson Lawal and Ibrahim Muhammad gave Nigeria all three points and a deserved quarter-final ticket at the 23rd Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Egypt on Saturday. Mozambique’s Young Mambas were the victims this time.
Buoyed in spirit by the win over host nation Egypt on Wednesday that shipped their campaign back on track, the Flying Eagles played with commendable self-assurance and dominated large swathes of a game played under floodlights at an impressive facility in north-eastern Egypt.
Ayuba Francis had failed to put enough purchase on his strikes in the 6th and 24th minutes on the turf of Suez Canal Authority Stadium in Ismailia, but Lawal, after receiving a pass from the nimble-footed Haliru Sarki, glided past two defenders before releasing a fierce shot that nestled safely in the net, beyond the groping arms of Kimiss Zavala in the 32nd minute.
With five minutes to interval, Muhammad, who ran rings round the Mozambican rearguard a number of times, got into a vantage position for a lofty strike that flew past Zavala and found the top right corner for Nigeria’s second.
In the second half, Nigeria’s safe hands Chijioke Aniagboso was his imperial self as he denied substitute Edson Mucuana from close range in the 55th minute. At the other end, another scorcher from Lawal rocked Zavala but he managed to parry it for a corner kick.
In the 76th minute, substitute Adams Olamilekan failed to find the net after a sweet lay-on by Ahmed Abdullahi, and with three minutes to go, Aniagboso again came up big when Jose Rabelina Zavala thought he was in a position to reduce Mozambique’s deficit.
Victory took the Flying Eagles to six points, and with Senegal pounding host nation Egypt 4-0 in Cairo, to finish top with maximum nine points from three matches, Nigeria finished a comfortable second and will play the winner of Group B (currently being contested by Congo and Uganda) in the quarter-finals on Thursday at the Suez Canal Authority Stadium in Ismailia.