Manu Garba, coach of the Golden Eaglets has blamed poor officiating for Monday’s 3-2 defeat to Burkina Faso in the ongoing U-17 AFCON qualifiers in Niger Republic.
The Junior Etalons of Burkina Faso shocked Nigeria in the first game of Zone B, scoring two goals in the opening 13 minutes.
Nigeria’s West African neighbours went on to win the game eleven minutes from time, after a resurgent Eagles team fought back.
However, the coach said the referee aided their opponents, who kept wasting time.
“We conceded two goals within the space of six minutes each. This was very unusual. We lost concentration at the beginning of the game, but we came back strongly and equalized. But the fact is that after the BurkinaFaso team saw that we’ve equalized, they were falling anyhow and the referee aided them a lot, including wasting of time ”, Garba alleged.
He expressed optimism that the team can beat Cote D’Ivoire by more than two goals, to enable the team book a semi-final spot.
“We have to beat Ivory Coast by more than two goals difference, to enable us secure a semi-final slot and it is very possible”, he added.
Garba also said the decamping of two Eaglets, who failed the final Magnetic Resonance Image, MRI, in Niger, also affected the balance of the team.
He added: “If you look at the setting, those boys passed the MRI in Nigeria, but unfortunately, they didn’t make it here. Although their absence shifted the balance of the team but we still have a strong team that can qualify, God’s willing.”
Nigeria will still battle Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Niger, and hosts, Benin for the sole ticket in the zonal qualifying model for the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, to be hosted in Tanzania in 2019.