Nigeria walked away with bragging rights over Zambia following a 4-2 victory in an international friendly in Abuja on Friday.
The Egypt-bound WAFU-B and COSAFA champions faced off in preparations for the TotalEnergies U20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023, with the host nation eventually edging the six-goal thrilling encounter at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium.
The Flying Eagles made a promising start but could not profit from their dominance until Rilwanu Haliru Sarki raced past the defence to give the hosts the lead six minutes to halftime.
After recess, both sides made an enterprising return for the second half before Derrick Bulaya fired a powerful volley past Nathaniel Nwosu to level matters 10 minutes after the restart.
Ladan Bosso’s side, however, fought back to recover the lead when Adams Olamilekan beat goalkeeper Jeban Tembo with a superb header off a corner in the 65th minute.
The unrelenting Chipolopolo bounced back again when Bulaya bagged his second of the match with a brilliant header off a well-taken corner to even the score four minutes later.
In the closing stages, the Nigerians came all out and eventually regained the lead through substitute Emmanuel Uchegbu eight minutes from time before another substitute Samson Lawal struck inside additional time to guarantee the triumph.
After the clash, Nigeria will head to Morocco for the final training on Wednesday, while Zambia will travel to Senegal to face off with another Egypt-bound Terranga Lions on Saturday.
At the Afcon finals, Nigeria will square up against hosts Egypt, Mozambique and Senegal in Grou A, while Zambia will fancy their chances against Tunisia, the Gambia and Benin in Group C.
Chisi Mbewe, Zambia U20 coach: “This game helped us to see a great picture of us and where we are supposed to work on. The good intensity, and good play from Nigeria and Zambia teams. I think my boys showed character, we were just coming from being scored, and we scored. Unfortunately, we just made some mistakes that made us lose this game, but it was a good preparation for us. We need to improve. I’m glad the way the Nigerians played, the tactics, those who started, those who came in, we could see they came as a team, and we could see they’ve been together for quite a long time. I think we are still sharpening up, we know where to touch and where to improve, as we are going closer and closer to the AFCON in Egypt.
Ladan Bosso, Nigeria U20 coach: “ We cover up where our weaknesses were coming from, and where their weaknesses are coming from we exploit it. And that’s why, when we change the two wingers they gave us the goals. As a coach, you don’t build just with one person. Anybody can start and anybody can finish. All I knew was the wing play came in the second half. If the two goals were avoided, I think we would have won by at least 4:0.This is the same team we are taking to the tournament, but we are still a work in progress. we work on our lapses so we see how we can do the best for the team.”