Nigeria’s Flying Eagles progressed to the quarterfinals of the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations after defeating Mozambique 2-0 on Saturday night in Ismailia. Nigeria finished second in Group A with six points after scoring two exquisite goals in the first half, while Senegal won the group with nine points after defeating host nation Egypt 4-0 in Cairo.
The Nigerians controlled possession at the Suez Canal Stadium, and their facile win at full-time came as no surprise. Ladan Bosso’s charges heaped on the pressure on Mozambique from the start, with Ibrahim Muhammad challenging the Mozambican keeper after five minutes with a speculative attempt from distance. The Young Os Mambas, on the other hand, withstood the early pressure, and Kimiss Zavala was perfectly placed to gather the effort.
After 20 minutes, Haliru Sarki and Ibrahim Muhammad offered breadth to the Nigerian team, producing half-chances with Sarki’s half-volley off a Mozambican defender. Kimiss Zavala made a brilliant one-handed stop to prevent Ayuba Abubakarr from putting the Flying Eagles ahead in Ismailia. Ibrahim Muhammad, who was on fire, fed Abubakarr, who controlled the ball with his back to goal before hitting straight at Zavala, who had made himself ready.
Nigeria broke the stalemate on 32 minutes when Samson Lawal produced a spectacular long-range effort to beat the hapless Kimiss Zavala. The PRO Success Football Academy striker took advantage of a rapid exchange of passes between full-back Augustine Njoku and Haliru Sarki before beating Zavala with a thunderous strike. Ibrahim Muhammad’s exquisite strike from outside the area increased the Flying Eagles’ advantage four minutes before halftime. Muhammad Aminu cut in from the left to unleash the Cartagena FC striker, who had a touch to set himself before beating Kimiss to make it 2-0.
Mozambique played on the break in the second half, while Nigeria made substitutions to give other players more playing time. Kimiss Zavala turned over substitute Jude Sunday’s furious attempt eleven minutes into the second half. As Ladan Bosso’s charges pushed more men forward, another Nigerian substitution, Olamilekan Adams, forced a save from Kimiss. The Young Os Mambas’ lone genuine chance came late in the game, when replacement Jose Rabelina Zavala scored from close range.
Egypt and Mozambique exit the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, while the Flying Eagles join Senegal in the quarterfinals. Nigeria, the competition’s seven-time winner, demonstrated quality and expertise with a dominant performance versus Mozambique. Their victory puts them in a solid position for the rest of the competition, and they will aim to build on it in their quarterfinal encounter.