- In a highly anticipated quarterfinal clash at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Nigeria's Golden Eaglets suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat against Burkina Faso, thus ending their campaign in the 2023 CAF U17 Africa Cup of Nations.
From the outset, the Nduka Ugbade-tutored side displayed their intentions, launching a relentless assault on their opponents.
Within the opening fifteen minutes, Nigeria could have easily netted three goals, with Abubakar Abdullahi's strike thundering against the crossbar and another decent shot from Charles Agada being spectacularly denied by Burkina Faso's shot-stopper, Isidore Traoré. Lady luck also favoured the Burkinabe team, as the woodwork thwarted Abdullahi's well-placed finish.
As the first half progressed, the Eaglets lost their grip on the game, allowing Burkina Faso to find their rhythm. Aboubacar Sidiki Camara emerged as a constant threat, exploiting Nigeria's growing sloppiness in possession.
Goalkeeper Richard Odoh and Jeremiah Olaleke's goal-line clearance were crucial in maintaining parity. Still, just before halftime, Burkina Faso capitalized on defensive errors, and Camara pounced from close range to break the deadlock.
The second half continued similarly, as Burkina Faso's Camara notched his brace from the penalty spot after the referee penalised a clumsy tackle by Ogboji. Trailing by two goals, the Golden Eaglets faced an uphill battle.
Nonetheless, a glimmer of hope was ignited in the 67th minute when Abdullahi reduced the deficit with a well-taken goal engineered by substitute Daniel.
Despite their late surge, the Nigerian team couldn't muster an equalizer before the final whistle, resulting in their untimely exit from the tournament.
The defeat is particularly significant as it means Nigeria will miss out on participation in the upcoming FIFA U17 World Cup.
In contrast, Burkina Faso advances to the semifinals, where they are slated to face Senegal, adding another chapter to their impressive AFCON campaign.