Nigeria went undefeated in the Men’s Football U23 Africa Cup of Nations. Eight teams were split into two groups of four nations with the top two nations advancing to the semifinals. The three medalists were given teams to compete in the men’s tournament at the Olympics. The U23 Africa Cup of Nations was held in Dakar and M’Bour, Senegal from November 28th to December 12th 2015.
In Group A Senegal topped the group by winning all three matches by a combined score of 6-1. The fight for the final spot to the semifinals was between South Africa and Tunisia in the final match of the group. The match was looking to finish in a nil-nil draw when South Africa’s Menzi Masuku scored in the 85th minute to give his nation the victory.
Group B was a lot less straight forward. In their first two matches Egypt drew Algeria and Nigeria 1-1 and 2-2 respectively. In its final match Egypt required a 2-0 victory over Mali or for Algeria and Nigeria to have a winner. The Algeria/Nigeria match was a defensive affair as the two nations played to a 0-0 draw. Egypt was unable to get its two goals and instead conceded a goal as Mali’s Souleymane Coulibaly scored the only goal in the 18th minute.
Nigeria was the first team to book its spot to the Olympics as a penalty kick from Etebo Oghenekaro gave them a 1-0 win over Senegal. Algeria joined Nigeria to the Olympics by scoring relatively early goals at the beginning of each half to win 2-0 over South Africa.
The third place play-off and the final Olympic spot had to go to penalty kicks as both Senegal and South Africa played to a 0-0 draw. With multiple misses on both sides it was South Africa that won the game and Olympic spot on their fifth attempt as they won the penalty kicks by 3-1. In the final match top scorer Etebo Oghenekaro scored two goals to win the title 2-1 over Algeria.
This will be Nigeria’s seventh Olympic appearance in men’s football where they will be looking to repeat their gold medal performance from 1996. Algeria and South Africa will return for their second tournament. South Africa’s spot is not completely confirmed as their nation has set strict qualification standards. In football they had to win the tournament in order for the South African Olympic Committee to agree to their participation. Should South Africa withdraw then Senegal will be given the spot as they were the next highest ranked team.
- South Africa
- CAF. U-23 Africa Cup of Nations Results. Access on December 15 2015.