Nigeria’s U-20 boys, Flying Eagles, on Friday night emerged champions of the West Africa B Zone when they defeated the Young Squirrels of Benin Republic 3-1 in the final of the WAFU B U-20 Championship in Niamey, capital of Niger Republic.
Tolulope Ojo, who emerged 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.
Ojo, who plays his club football for Ikenne-based Remo Stars, made it two for Nigeria in the 62nd minute.
Ibrahim Muhammad, a forward who plays for Maikunkele FC, made it 3-0 with 16 minutes to go when he cleverly won the ball as the Beninoise goalkeeper tried to launch an attack, and then heaved the ball over the goalie’s head.
The Squirrels scored a consolation goal with few minutes to the end. They had won their Group A that included host nation Niger Republic, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, before edging Burkina Faso in the first semi final on Tuesday.
Nigeria, seven-time African champions, were worthy winners of the trophy. They 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.
As finalists, Nigeria and Benin Republic will fly WAFU B zone’s flag at the 2023 Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Egypt.