The Baby Elephants of Cote d' Ivoire won their first African U-17 title after a 5-4 penalty shoot victory over The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria in the final of CAF U-17 Morocco Telecom Championship played in Marrakech on Saturday. The West African derby had ended 1-1 with both goals scored in the first half of a pulsating encounter.
It took the Nigerians eight minutes to open the scoring through Prince Omego. Chidiebere Nwakali took a corner kick that forced a save from the Ivorian goal minder Aboubakar Diabagate who punched a goal-bound header back into play and Omega reacted quickest to poke home the first goal of the match
Nigeria could have doubled their lead some minutes later when some intricate play found Musa Yahaya all by himself in the box but with everyone looking for the off-side whistle which did not come, Yahaya dragged his short wide of the post. The Ivorians' response was to try and get some service to their front tall striker Bile Bedia. Twenty-six minutes had gone when Baby Elephants won a free-kick in the Nigeria half. Bedia used his height advantage to jump furthest and flick a header into the top corner of Adeyinka Adewale's net for the equalizer. Just after that Success Isaac was thwarted by Diabagate after beat his marker but the goalkeeper closed the angel forcing the competition top-goal scorer to blaze his effort.
The Ivorians then took the midfield contest to their opponents with Bekanty Angban , Aboubacar Keita and Digbo Maiga who was playing just behind Bedia stretching and tussling with Kelechi Iheanacho, Bernard Bulbwa, Yahaya. It was a similar story in the second and Adewale was I the wars after being knocked down a couple of times from corner kicks as the taller Ivorians attacked high balls.
The teams engaged in a fierce battle and both defenses stood solid in an evenly contest match. The Baby Elephants came close to a second goal when captain Yannick Kessie played a through ball to Maiga only for Musa Muhammed to come with a crucial challenge. Nigeria went down to ten men in the 73rd minute when defender Akinjide Idowu 's challenge on Aboubacar Keita with a raised arm got him sent off but the Golden Eaglets forced make changes kept on the pressure as a see-saw battle ensued.
The contest could not provide a winner and it was left to a penalty shoot-out to settle the matter and the Ivorians scored all their five penalties through Kessie, Diallo Ismael, Angban, Keita and Dogbole Niangbo who scored the winning penalty after Chidiebere Nwakali has missed for Nigeria. Success, Ifeanyi Mathew, Yahaya and Musa Muhammed converted spot kicks for Nigeria