NIGERIA’S Golden Eaglets on Thursday, May 11, failed to actualise their dream to feature in a 6th FIFA UN-17 World Cup, billed to hold this year in November, after they were eliminated by Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals of the UN-17 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Algeria.
Burkina Faso defeated Nigeria 2-1, meaning that the Golden Eaglets could not qualify for this year’s FIFA UN-17 World Cup.
Nigeria is regarded as the most successful country in this biennial international football event with a record of winning the FIFA World Cup five times.
Since the U-17 AFCON started in 1995, this is the first time the Nigerian UN-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, will lose at the quarter-finals stage.
In 1995 the team finished as runners-up; in 1997 failed to qualify and in 1999 ended at the group stage while in 2001, they emerged as champions.
Two years later, they came third. In 2005 they did not progress to the knockout stage while in 2007 they were crowned champions.
They did not qualify for the 2009 and 2011 editions but finished second in 2013.
In 2015, the Golden Eaglets finished fourth. The team did not qualify in 2017. They finished fourth again in 2019.
However, in 2023, they ended their journey for the first time at the quarter-finals stage.
The other quarter-finals encounter of the ongoing UN-17 AFCON on Thursday between Mali and Congo ended 3-0 in favour of Mali.
The victory for Mali and Burkina Faso has propelled them to the semi-finals, where they will continue their pursuit of silverware.
The quarter-finals started on Wednesday with a contest between Senegal and South Africa that produced 5 goals which made Senegal progress to the semi-finals for the first time and also become a debutant for the World Cup. The match was played at the Nelson Mandela Stadium.
The second quarter-finals match between Morocco and the host country, Algeria, ended 3-0 in favour of the Moroccan side. The game was played at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui in Constantine.
Morocco, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso qualify for FIFA UN-17 World Cup
The last four teams remaining in the ongoing UN-17 AFCON in Algeria are Morocco, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso and being the last four, they will represent the African continent at the FIFA UN-17 World Cup in November.
In the semi-finals, Senegal will slug it out with Burkina Faso while Morocco will play Mali. These matches will come up on Sunday, May 14.
Winners of the semi-finals encounters will play in the final billed to hold on Friday while the losers will play a third-place match on the eve of the final.