The Golden Eaglets will need at least a draw tonight with South Africa for them to avoid rampant Senegal, who have now emerged as the favourites to win this year’s U17 AFCON after they won Group A in fine style.
The Junior Teranga Lions won all three group games, scored seven goals without letting in a goal to finish with a perfect nine points going into the quarterfinals.
They are following in the boot steps of their U20 compatriots who went all the way to win the U20 AFCON in Egypt in March unbeaten and without conceding a goal.
The Junior Teranga will take on the third best losers in the Golden Eaglets group or Group C, which has Burkina Faso and Cameroon.
A loss for coach Nduka Ugbade’s team tonight against South Africa (kick-off time 8pm) could well get them this tough battle against the ruthless Senegalese.
The Eaglets easier path to the knockout rounds is to finish as runners-up in their group and this is possible with either a draw or a win tonight in Constantine.
Should they finish as group runners-up, they will then battle either Burkina Faso, who they beat to win the WAFU qualifiers last year in Ghana, or defending champions Cameroon.
The quarterfinal fixtures already confirmed are Morocco vs Algeria and Mali vs Congo.
Quarterfinals will be played on May 10 and 11.
The winners of these matches will thus reach the semifinals and book their passage to the FIFA U17 World Cup later this year.