Romance departed the African Games on Tuesday but not without a fight at Sports Center of FAR, where Mali so nearly went further but for fate’s cruel hand in a penalty shoot-out.
After a pulsating second half and extra-time yielded everything but a goal, the Young Eagles sought to repeat their spot-kick heroics against the Flying Eagles with another flawless performance form 12 yards, but Paul Aigbogun’s decision to keep faith with goalkeeper Detan Ogundare proved decisive.
In the dramatic shoot-out, Ogundare produced four saves to help his team zoom to Friday’s final. It ended 5-4 on penalties.
It was a masterstroke of cool man-management and came after a game that, in its early stages, looked a formality but it in its dying moments was anyone’s for the taking.
What mattered in the end, however, was that it was the Flying Eagles who marched onwards to meet Friday’s final with either Senegal or Burkina Faso at the Stade Boubker Ammar.
Nigeria National League club, Kogi United took to Social Media to congratulate their number one shot stopper.
“Congratulations to our safest hand, Detan Ogundare for his heroics, making Nigeria qualify for the final of #AfricanGames to beat Mali in the Men’s Football Semifinal today.”
“Detan saved FOUR spot kicks as the Flying Eagles qualified 5-4 on penalties.