By Sedara Philip
Burkina Faso edged out Nigeria 2-1 at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers on Thursday to progress to the semi-finals of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), and clinch Africa’s last available slot for the FIFA World Cup.
Aboubacar Camara scored a brace for the Junior Stallions to earn them victory in the tightly contested duel. It was sweet revenge for Burkina who lost to Nigeria via the same score-line in the final of the WAFU Zone qualifiers.
The Golden Eaglets’ hopes of a 13th qualification to the global showpiece and the hunt for a record extending third African title were thwarted, with Burkina Faso keeping their chase for a second title.
The Stallions made the most of their chances, while Nigeria will be left ruing their missed opportunities especially in the opening half where they hit the woodwork twice.
Charles Agada had a chance as early as after a minute and 29 seconds when he went through on goal from a Tochukwu Ogbabido pass, but the keeper made a brilliant block one on one.
In the seventh minute, Abubakar Abdullahi had a rasping shot from the edge of the box grease the crossbar while on the quarter hour mark, Agada saw his effort come off the upright from close range.
In the 37th minute, Agada once again had a chance when he broke through on the right but his shot was well saved by the keeper.
In the final five minutes of the half, Burkina Faso raised their tempo and Camara saw his effort cleared off the line by Jeremiah Olaleke. Four minutes later though, they went ahead when Camara scored from close range after Nigerian defender Tochukwu Ogboji miscued his clearance from inside the box.
In the second half, Burkina Faso doubled their tally just 10 minutes after the restart, Camara completing his brace from the penalty spot after Souleymane Alio was brought down inside the box by Ogboji.
With a two-goal mountain to climb, Nigeria increased their efforts upfront and they halved the deficit in the 67th minute when Abdullahi tapped home from close range after a cross from Emmanuel Michael.
The Golden Eaglets piled the pressure to try get a draw and force the game beyond the 90 minutes. Substitute Favour Daniel had a looping header pushed to the bar by the keeper while Umar Abubakar had a curling freekick saved for a corner.
Despite concerted efforts, Nigeria’s bid to turn the game in their favour didn’t succeed.
Burkina Faso will now travel back to Annaba where they played their group matches to take on Senegal in the semis.