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Flying Eagles win African Youth Championship with 1-0 victory over hosts Senegal


altNIGERIA's U20 team the Flying Eagles have been crowned African champions for the seventh time after their 1-0 victory over hosts Senegal in Dakar in the African Youth Championship yesterday.

Sealing victory thanks to a lone goal scored by Bernard Bulbwa in the 20th minute, the Flying Eagles are now one of the favourites for the U20 World Cup taking place in New Zealand later this year. Earlier on in the tournament, the Flying Eagles had beaten Senegal 3-1 in the group stage.

Yesterday, the Flying Eagles played in their first final since 2011 when they defeated Cameroun 3-2 after extra time in a tense affair at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in Dakar. Over 40,000 fans were at the match venue to watch the two exciting teams in action.

Both Senegal and Nigeria, along with Mali and Ghana qualify for the U20 World Cup as Africa has four slots, which go to all semi finalists. Earlier yesterday evening, Ghana beat Mali 3-1 in the third place play-off to win the bronze medal.

As yesterday's game progressed, the Flying Eagles gradually began to settle down to their usual free flowing game and utilised the runs of captain Musa Muhammed down the right. They were soon in front through a moment of pure magic from Bulbwa who showed great skill outside the box before unleashing an unstoppable screamer into the top corner of the net.

Shortly afterwards, Enugu Rangers midfielder, Obinna Nwobodo skied a 40-metre shot after some neat interchanges. However, the home crowd urged the Young Lions on and spurred on by this, Mouhameth Sane headed a right-wing cross into the safe hands of Nigerian goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo in the 27th minute.

Senegal searched for an equaliser before the break with Roger Gomis and Moussa Kone coming close. In a scary moment in the 41st minute, the Flying Eagles defenders were ball watching as Sane nodded a Sarr corner kick onto the cross bar in the 41st minute.

In the second half, the Young Lions kept pressing forward in search of an equaliser and a cracking shot from Niang in the 47th minute was brilliantly tipped away by Enaholo. In the 54th minute, Senegal nearly scored again but the Nigerian defence line cleared the danger after a goal mouth scramble.

Towards the end, striker Taiwo Awoniyi was presented with a chance when he was put through on goal but Senegal goalie Sy was alert. In the 88th minute, Awoniyi he came close again releasing an ambitious shot from outside the area, which produced a dipping save from Sy.

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