Flying Eagles head coach Paul Aigbogun has refused to blame his players despite their semi-final defeat to Mali at the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niger, reports Completesports.com.
The Aiglons carried the day with a 4-3 triumph on penalties after the game ended 1-1 following 120 minutes of energy sapping action.
Mamadou Traore broke the deadlock for Mali on 77 minutes with a fierce drive inside the area from Hadji Drame’s clever through ball.
The lead lasted for nine minutes as Flying Eagles’ substitute Paschal Durugbor fired in the equalizer past the helpless Mali goalkeeper and forced the match to extra time and penalties.
In the penalty shootout, Nigeria’s Valentine Ozornwafor and Aniekeme Okon both missed from the spot while Mali’s Boubacar Traore saw his effort saved by Olawale Oremade.
“It was a very difficult match against Mali and we fought as it should but unfortunately for us Mali won,” Aigbogun told reporters after the game.
“We congratulate the Malian team for their victory and qualification. Today we cannot say that something has not worked since the two teams were equal.”
Aigbogun will lead the Flying Eagles against the Amajita of South Africa in a Third Place fixture at the Seyni Kountche Stadium on Saturday.
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