Nigeria’s Sand Eagles failed to top Group A and ensure semi- final qualification after losing via penalties to west African rivals Ivory Coast on Wednesday after the sides ended extra time at 4-4 at the Eko Atlantic Beach, Lagos.
Ivory Coast made it two wins from two at the CAF Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations but needed penalties to see off Nigeria In a thrilling match-up, both sides had the chance to ensure their semi-final spot, with Ivory Coast leading 3-2 going into the final eight minutes until Abu Azeez and Victor Tale thought they had secured victory with seconds left.
However, after Aka equalised again from the spot, the game went to penalties where Ivory Coast proved faultless to win the shootout 3-1.
Abu – the tournament’s top scorer in 2013 – broke the deadlock with a fine finish to get the Lagos crowd on their feet, with Nigeria bossing much of the opening stages.
However, goalkeeper Kouadio stunned the hosts when he found the top corner from range before Djedjed rattled the woodwork for the Ivorians.
A smart turn and finish from Kablan had the Ivory Coast in front – prompting a wave of Nigerian attacks as they sought to get back on level terms.
And Nigeria restored parity with a thumping free-kick courtesy of Tale to set up a tense finale.
After Badi almost scored direct from a free-kick, Kablan’s second restored the Ivorians’ lead although again it proved short-lived – Abu shifting the ball to his left and hammering a strike past Kouadio.
Emeka’s glancing header clipped the crossbar and after Tale looked to have won it in normal time, Aka rattled in a leveller from the resulting kick-off.
Ogodo twice went close in extra time but neither side could secure a winner, with Ivory Coast ensuring their place at the top courtesy of three perfect penalties and a miss from Tale.