Nigeria’s 2-1 victory against Cote d’Ivoire in the semi final of the U20 WAFU B Championship was down to a perfect game strategy, Head Coach Ladan Bosso has claimed.
An Ibrahim Yahaya second-half, extra time goal sealed the win for Nigeria and also confirmed the team’s spot at the 2023 U20 Africa Cup of Nations, alongside Benin Republic.
Speaking after the game, Bosso said the team had studied videos of the Cote d’Ivoire team and knew exactly what to expect.
“Well in the first place I want to appreciate everybody that has been around us,” an impressed Bosso sent a message of appreciation to the Managers’ of the team.
“Most importantly we have watched our opponents (Ivory Coast) play against Benin Republic.”
“We observed that they play with a three-man defence, five in the middle and two up front.”
Nigeria’s preparation for the Championship like many other before it had been haphazard and this time around the team was assembled just a little over one week.
This may have also helped the Coaches will with the approach to setting up the team, as Ladan Bosso alluded to.
“And looking at the fact that we did not start preparation early; just one week before our first game, so there was no way we could match the midfield play and strength of the Cote d’Ivoire team.”
“So, what we needed to do was put three in the middle and four upfront so we could hit the ball behind their defenders.
“In the midfield Cote d’Ivoire had five and we had three, so when we get the ball we try to avoid the midfield, we put the ball behind the defenders so the attackers will go.
“That was exactly what gave us the first goal and the penalty, but in all honesty Cote d’Ivoire is not a bad side, they’re a very good team, so they’ll have to try their luck another time.”
Nigeria took a first half lead, but allowed the Ivorians level before the break, with a stoppage them free kick taht beat the Flying Eagles five-man wall and the goalkeeper.
The game resumed and wore on through to the end of regulation time, but there would be no goal action recorded.
Before the winning goal arrived, Nigeria had been denied a penalty shout, but they would get another call and though it looked like a dive, the Referee pointed to the penalty box.
Ibrahim Yahaya dispatched without any mistakes to give the Flying Eagles the lead for a second time in the game.
A last minute chance for Cote d’Ivoire to level again – in stoppage time – was bundled well over the cross bar from the edge of the box. They also had a player sent off before the kick, for dissent.
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