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Golden Eaglets of Nigeria Fail to Qualify for 2025 U-17 AFCON and World Cup

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By Milcah Tanimu

The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria have been eliminated from contention for the 2025 Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast, despite securing a victory over Ghana in the third-place match of the Under-17 WAFU B Championship on Tuesday, May 28.

Entering the 2024 WAFU B Championship as the defending champions, the Golden Eaglets were considered strong favorites. However, their campaign was derailed by a 1-0 loss to Ivory Coast in the semi-finals, relegating them to the third-place playoff against Ghana. In a closely contested match, the Golden Eaglets emerged victorious with a 3-2 win.

There was uncertainty regarding whether a third-place finish in the WAFU B Championship would be sufficient for qualification to the 2025 U-17 AFCON, a critical pathway to the 2025 U-17 World Cup in Qatar.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) later confirmed that despite their third-place finish, the Golden Eaglets did not qualify for the U-17 AFCON. A statement from the NFF clarified that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will maintain a 12-team format for the tournament, not expanding to 16 teams as some had speculated.

“The Confederation of African Football has clarified that next year’s Africa U-17 Cup of Nations will still have 12 finalists in attendance, as against the minimum of 16 teams being projected by African football enthusiasts,” the NFF’s statement read. “This means that despite defeating host nation Ghana in Tuesday’s third-place match of the WAFU B U-17 Championship, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria have not qualified for the finals.”

This outcome also means that Nigeria will miss out on the 2025 U-17 World Cup in Qatar, as qualification for the U-17 AFCON is the sole route for African teams to reach the global event.

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