.Keep progression hopes alive
Amajita and Nigeria had to settle for a share of the spoils in an Africa Cup of Nations U20 match .Neither South Africa nor Nigeria could find the back of the net in their second Afcon U20 match on Tuesday night.
Amajita found themselves under immense pressure in the opening stages of the game with Nigeria taking the game to them. However, Thabo Senong’s men grew into the encounter after five minutes, although they should thank their defence for keeping the scoreline at 0-0 as Nigeria threatened to break the deadlock early on.
The first real chance of the match fell for Njabulo Blom, who fired from distance only to be denied by Nigerian goalkeeper Oremade Olawale in the ninth minute.
On 15 minutes, Fezile Gcaba had to time his tackle to stop Ibrahim Abubakar in his tracks as Nigeria continue to probe without luck.
Siphesihle Mkhize was the first player to be booked after a reckless tackle on Muhammed Muhammed.At this stage, it was clear that South Africa needed to keep Nigeria away from their goal in order to keep their first clean sheet of the tournament.
Senong knew that it was always going to be difficult to keep Nigeria at bay, but going into the half-time break with the scoreboard unchanged was certainly a huge achievement. But then again, Amajita goalkeeper Khulekani Kubheka had to come to the rescue as he denied Yahaya Nazifi with a fine save after 33 minutes.
Kubheka had to be at his best two minutes before the break, parrying Abubakar’s effort over the crossbar with another fantastic save.
Both sides had a positive start to the second period simply because both sets of players played with more intent and frequently made forward passes.
Senong had to be on his feet as the Flying Eagles looked more dangerous in the final third. There was more sense of belief from Amajita 10 minutes after the restart as they played in patches, but perhaps they should have kept the ball better in order to hurt Nigeria. Nigeria then looked to use their wingers to breach the Amajita defence, and this nearly paid off in the 58th as Abrahim Ibrahim whipped a cross into the box.
However, the cross was too strong for Yahaya Nazifi, who would have needed a little touch to beat Kubheka. A win for Nigeria would have sealed their passage to the Fifa World Cup in Poland, but they knew that it wouldn’t be easy as South Africa stood firm to soak the pressure.
At one stage, Nigeria enjoyed over 65 percent ball possession, but they still couldn’t turn that into goals.
South Africa knew that a draw in this ‘Group of Death’ would keep their progression hopes alive going into the final group match against Burundi.
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