Nigeria’s U-23, nicknamed Dream Team, surged into the semi finals of the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations after a scoreless draw with Algeria in Dakar on Saturday.
Mali, already eliminated, also did the Dream Team a lot of good by piping Egypt 1-0 in the other game of Group B, played simultaneously as they were the last games. Both results meant the Junior Pharaohs and the Malian Eagles were eliminated.
Oghenekaro Etebo came closest for Nigeria in the first half, but the Algerian goalkeeper was up to the task.
The Dream Team will take on host Senegal, who swept maximum nine points from their three Group A matches, in the first semi final in Dakar on Wednesday. South Africa, who finished second in Group A, will take on Algeria – marginal winners of Group B over Nigeria, by virtue of superior goals difference.
As happened in the first two games, goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel was huge for the Dream Team, saving point blank efforts by the opposition and coming up with brilliant reflex saves.
At the end, Head Coach Samson Siasia handed each of his players the sum of $100, fulfilling a promise he had made to them should they reach the championship’s last four.
Only the top three finishers in Senegal will qualify to represent Africa at next year’s Olympics men’s football tournament.