The players who shone for Nigeria at the 2023 U20 AFCON in Egypt were not exactly the ones many had predicted would.
SCORENigeria lists the best five performers for the Flying Eagles at Egypt 2023.
The Giant Brillars shot stopper wrestled the No 1 jersey from Nathaniel Nwosu, who had displaced him going into the WAFU B qualifying tournament for the U20 AFCON in Niger Republic last May. Nwosu was culpable for Senegal match winner and was axed for Aniagboso to put up a five-star display in the all-important Group A clash against hosts Egypt. He did not look back thereafter as he kept goal right up to the third-place decider against Tunisia.
Suspension of skipper Daniel Bameyi meant the Sweden-based centre-back will start his first game at the AFCON against Mozambique. Not only did he help the team record a clean sheet, he was outstanding for him to be named by CAF as Man of the Match. He did not look back afterwards as his swash-buckling style kept the Junior Eagles tight at the back.
The leftback scooped two CAF Man of the Match Awards, first for his thumping headed match winner against home team Egypt and then for his overall performance against Mozambique. He gained in confidence as the tournament went so much so that he not only did his primary assignment but also pushed forward to help the attack.
2. Jude Sunday
The Real Sapphire of Lagos star had to wait till the Flying Eagles last game in Egypt to show the world what he is made of. His two goals in the third-place match against Tunisia oozed class. The first goal saw him dribble almost the entire Tunisian defence before he fired home, while the second was a powerful shot with his magical left foot from just inside the box to complete the thrashing of the North Africans. Why was he consigned to the bench in the previous games?
1.Ibrahim Mohammed ‘Beji’
Like it was in the qualifiers last year, the direct-playing winger again was far and away the Flying Eagles best player at the U20 AFCON in Egypt. In the qualifiers he notched three goals and at the tournament proper, he fired two goals. All these were despite the fact that he suffered from match fitness in the build-up to the competition and also joined the squad late. ‘Beji’ is most certainly destined for great things sooner rather than later.