The Flying Eagles of Nigeria had their dream of a record eighth title success dashed Wednesday following a 4-3 penalty shootout defeat to Mali at the 2019 CAF U-20 AFCON in Niger.
Paul Aigbogun’s team were off colour in a drab performance at Stade Seyni Kountche, Niamey as Mali dictated the pace of the game and it was unsurprising that Bamako Eagles took a deserved lead in the 78th minute as Mamadou Traore hits a left shoo to hit the bottom corner leaving the badly exposed goalkeeper Olawale Oremade making a futile attempt to stop the well-placed shot.
The Eagles responded with four minutes left as a clearance by a Malian defender came to the part of Declan Durugbor who hit a mid-air shot past Mali goalkeeper Koita.
Half an hour of extra time produced no goals and the dreaded penalty shootout was used to decide the match with Nigeria losing their first and last of the mandatory first five kicks
Uzor Nwafor had his tame effort saved by Kiota but have his blushes saved by Oremade who dived low to his right to save Traore’s kick.
The next six kicks were converted but Nigeria’s last kick by Okon Aniekeme came off the crossbar and Mali converted their last kick to go through to the final.