Nigeria’s quest to remain supremo at the Under-23 football level in Africa suffered a major set-back Wednesday as Libya inflicted a 2-0 defeat on the cup holders in the first leg of the qualifying match for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Before a fairly large crowd at the Stade de Ben Guerdane in Tunisia, the North African nation took the lead after just seven minutes into the match when striker Zakaria Alharaish scored from a close range.
According to reports, things got worse for Nigeria after goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar was dismissed in the closing stages of the first half for handling the ball outside the goal area,
Nigeria’s defence showed some nervy and uninspiring displays in closing down their superior opponents in that half.
While Dennis Bonaventure made way in a tactical change after the setback, Orewale Oremade was brought on to mind the goal but that did little to stem the flow of the Libyans as they doubled their lead in the second half after another quick breakaway to leave Nigeria with a mountain to climb in the reverse fixture scheduled for the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Monday, March 25.
Nigeria will need to score three unreplied goals to reach the final phase of the qualifying round of matches that will come up in June.
Africa’s flag-bearers in the Men’s Olympic football team to Tokyo 2020 will emerge during the 3rd Africa U-23 Cup of Nations to hold in Egypt from November 8th to 22nd this year.