The Flying Eagles of Nigeria beat Ghana 2-0 on Wednesday at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in Dakar, to reach the final of the 19th edition of the African U-20 Championship.
A goal in each half from Obinna Nwobodo and Musa Muhammed ensured Nigeria confirmed their place for the ultimate game of the championship.
Nigeria met their toughest opponent yet in a Ghana team that took control of the game from the onset.
For the first time, the Flying Eagles were exposed and were found wanting as the Ghanaians did not allow them to play their game. By the quarter-hour mark, the Nigerians had yet to find their rhythm.
Midfielder Yaw Yeboah and lanky forward Benjamin Tetteh gave the Nigerian defence so much to worry about, but it was the diminutive Yeboah who remained their biggest threat.
On 10 minutes, Nigeria goalie, Joshua Enaholo, by far the busier of the opening half was forced to palm away a Yeboah shot from a free-kick at the edge of the penalty area.
The Ghanaians remained in control but it was the Nigerians who broke the deadlock with a rare chance from a corner kick on 22 minutes. Ifeanyi Matthew laid a cross that met the head of Obinna Nwobodo, and the ball will hit the post before rolling into the net for the opener.
The Nigerians were forced into the shell again and the Ghanaians will run at them with Clifford Aboagye, Yeboah and Tetteh leading the onslaughts. On the half-hour mark, a three-man move by the Satellites saw Aboagye square to Tetteh, and he laid to Yeboah who fired a shot that flew across the face of goal to the relief of the Flying Eagles.
The same partnership will lead to yet another chance three minutes later, with Tetteh at the receiving end of a Aboagye pass, but his shot missed target narrowly.
Goalkeeper Enaholo was to his side’s rescue on 39 minutes saving Aboagye’s goal-bound shot after Tetteh had headed his way inside the Nigeria penalty area.
Just before the break, Ifeanyi was unlucky to see his curling shot from a free-kick miss target by inches as his team went into recess with a narrow lead.
The Satellites resumed on the same tempo with consistent raids that kept the Nigerian defence boiling with Aboagye, Yeboah and Tetteh all having shots at goal.
After failing to make their dominance count, the Nigerians will teach them how to do it again through a counter that saw Ghana defender Patrick Asmah fell Ifeanyi for a penalty on 70 minutes.
Captain Musa Muhammed converted nicely past Ghana goalie Michael Sai to cushion the lead.
The Nigerians held on to cruise to victory and book a date against the winner of the other semi-final between Mali and Nigeria on Thursday in the final on Sunday.
Orange Man of the Match
Obinna Nwobodo (Nigeria)