Nairobi — Mali and Burkina Faso completed the semi-final line up at the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Algeria after winning their quarter final duels on Thursday, also earning the two available slots for the FIFA World Cup.
Mali earned a comfortable 3-0 victory over Congo, while Burkina Faso worked hard to beat pre-tournament favourites and five-time world champions Nigeria 2-1.
In Algiers, Nigeria were punished for various missed chances with Aboubacar Camara scoring a brace for the Junior Stallions.
He scored the first in the 44th minute, coming after Nigeria had missed a myriad of chances. Burkina Faso’s Camara scored from close range after Nigerian defender Tochukwu Ogboji miscued his clearance from inside the box.
Just before that, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria had missed several chances, hitting the woodwork twice.
Charles Agada had a chance for Nigeria as early as after a minute and 29 seconds when he went through on goal from a Tochukwu Ogbabido pass, but the keeper made a brilliant block one on one.
In the seventh minute, Abubakar Abdullahi had a rasping shot from the edge of the box grease the crossbar while on the quarter hour mark, Agada saw his effort come off the upright from close range.
In the 37th minute, Agada once again had a chance when he broke through on the right but his shot was well saved by the keeper.
In the second half, Burkina Faso doubled their tally just 10 minutes after the restart, Camara completing his brace from the penalty spot after Souleymane Alio was brought down inside the box by Ogboji.
With a two-goal mountain to climb, Nigeria increased their efforts upfront and they halved the deficit in the 67th minute when Abdullahi tapped home from close range after a cross from Emmanuel Michael.
Despite concerted efforts, Nigeria’s bid to turn the game in their favour didn’t succeed.
In the late kick off, Mali, two time champions of the tournament, had a more commanding performance against Congo.
Ange Tia, Mamadou Doumbia and Mohamoud Barry got the three goals for the Malian Eagles to hand them a place in the last four and a ticket to the global showpiece.
Tia got Mali infront after just eight minutes with a brilliant break into the box from a Doumbia through ball and a shot into the far left.
Doumbia made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute with a low finish after a defense splitting pass from Barry found him well placed.
In the second half, Mali continued with the same pressure and they thought to have had a third in the 53rd minute when Doumbia put skipper Ibrahim Diarra through, but his goal was ruled out for offside.
A minute later though, they were 3-0 up. Barry converted from the penalty spot after his initial cross was handled inside the box by Brad-Hamilton Mantsounga.