The Flying Eaglesof Nigeria, defeated Mali 4-3 on penalties in the semi-final of the men’s football event at 12th African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
With the victory, Nigeria’s U-20 side will battle with Burkina Faso for the gold medal of the tournament. Both teams failed to find target in regulation and extra time, with Nigeria captain Abubakar Ibrahim inexplicably failing to convert a penalty kick in the 23rd minute.
Penalty shootout again came to the rescue as it happened when both sides battled to a 1-1 draw in the semi-finals of the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Niger Republic in February.
In Niamey, Mali triumphed 4-3 after the shoot-out. But the session in Rabat on Tuesday proved comical, with the Flying Eagles showing inefficiency from the spot by throwing away their first three kicks even as goalkeeper Detan Ogundare kept saving the Malian kicks. Mike Zaruma, Rabiu Mohammed and Emeka Chinonso wasted their kicks.
Skipper Ibrahim and Success Makanjuola scored the fourth and fifth kicks, just as the Malians did, to take the shoot-out into sudden death.
In sudden death, Samuel Nnochiri and Adesina Gata scored while their Malian opposite numbers also scored. But after Adewale Oladoye scored, Mali’s next kick was saved by the inspired Ogundare to take Nigeria to Friday’s final.