Flying Eagles coach Manu Garba has said the 2-0 win over archrivals Ghana, which qualified his team to the final of the 2015 AYC, was most important even though they were not at their best.
Nigeria on Wednesday defeated Ghana 2-0 in Dakar to now await the winners of the second semifinal between hosts Senegal and Mali on Thursday.
Flying Eagles coach Manu said his team struggled to get into the semifinal against Ghana and overall did not play to their potentials.
“We did not pick up early, but when we got our goal, we somehow settled down,” said the coach.
“We were just above average, we didn’t play as well as we are capable of, but the most important thing was that we won.”
He praised the Ghana Black Satellites for raising their game above their performance against Mali in their final group game at the weekend.
“Ghana played better than they did against Mali,” he said.
Striker Taiwo Awoniyi said the Nigeria U20s remain on course for a seventh AYC title.
“We want to win the cup so as to make Nigerians happy and proud,” he said.
“The fact that we had already qualified for the World Cup made it easier for us to focus on becoming African champions again.”
Nigeria opened scoring after 22 minutes through midfielder Obinna Nwobodo, who nodded home a corner taken by skipper Musa Muhammed.
They doubled their advantage in the 71 st minute from the penalty spot when skipper Musa converted after he was brought down on his way to goal. It was his fourth goal of the tournament, which makes him the leading scorer of the competition.
The second goal by Musa killed the game for the Flying Eagles as Ghana threw away chance after chance in their quest to draw level.
Usman Sale ought to have opened scoring for Nigeria as early as the third minute by goalkeeper Michael Sai did well to save off his feet right inside the box.
Ghana threatened after nine minutes when danger man Yaw Yeboah dashed into the box but goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo was alert to block out the danger.
Enaholo also tipped for a corner a goal-bound free kick by Yeboah two minutes later, before Sale failed to connect for the Flying Eagles from inside the box.
Nigeria will come close again after 25 minutes, when a shot came off the post and on the half hour Enaholo again denied Yeboah with a fine save.
Yeboah again saw his effort from top of the box come off the post two minutes later.
Enaholo will save a snapshot by Clifford Aboagye in the 39 th minute.
In the 44 th minute, Musa saw his free kick clip the crossbar.
There was also a superb solo run by Nwobodo, but his final shot missed the mark.
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