Nigeria knocks Zambia out of U-20

13 July 2007 at 11:29 | 1196 views

CBC Sports.

Chukwuma Akabueze’s powerful left foot proved to be the difference as Nigeria edged Zambia 2-1 at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Thursday.

Akabueze scored in the 57th minute to break a 1-1 deadlock and, ultimately, decide a flashy all-African affair before a crowd of 22,531 at Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa.

Akabueze controlled the ball at the top left corner of the box and, when challenged by defender Goodson Kachinga, dribbled to his left and unleashed a blast that Zambian goalkeeper Jacob Banda could only wave at helplessly as it entered the net.

"I’m always trying to catch keepers out from distance," Akabueze said. "But it had not worked for me until now."

Nigeria will take on either Chile or Portugal in Sunday’s quarter-final matchup at Montreal (CBC, 2 p.m. ET).

Uwa Echiejile notched the other goal for Flying Eagles, who reached the final two years ago.

"I think we could have scored more goals were it not for a quality display by the Zambia keeper, who performed spectacularly well," Nigerian coach Ladan Bosso said. "This is a team that, as we play our matches, we are blending."

Rodgers Kola scored the lone goal for the Copper Bullets.

Defender Henry Nnyambe did not dress, having picked up a red card - and an automatic suspension - in Zambia’s previous match.

"The team has been growing every day," Zambian coach George Lwandamina said. "We may have fallen, but we’ve gained experience which will assist the national team in the future."

"This team was only formed two years ago and arrived in Canada having only played in three tournaments together. Even so, the guys showed determination and ambition. They should have no regrets."

Echiejile opened the scoring early for Nigeria, heading in a hard cross in the third minute.

But Kola replied in similar fashion in the 34th minute as he charged hard at Emmanuel Mayuka’s low cross and drove a bouncing header into the ground beyond the reach of Nigerian goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.

It was the first goal conceded by Nigeria in four matches at the World Cup.

After Akabueze put Nigeria ahead 2-1, Ezenwa preserved the slim margin of victory by tipping a dangerous shot from midfielder Fwayo Tembo over the crossbar during injury time.

"We lost the game because our concentration wavered, but this isn’t over," Zambian forward Emmanuel Mayuka said. "Our project continues and, hopefully, we can keep participating at the highest level of the world game."