Nigeria has escaped disqualification from the African U17 Cup of Nations zonal qualifiers, after a protest by the hosts, Niger Republic, who put a temporary halt to celebrations of the Golden Eaglets by alleging that their conquerors played with an ineligible player.
Niger Republic tabled a formal protest after their 2-1 loss to Nigeria, alleging that one of the Eaglets, Adam Mustapha, played with an expired passport.
However, the Eaglets were cleared to move ahead into Saturday’s final against Ghana, after officials of West African Football Union (WAFU) declared on Thursday that the lad in question was qualified to play.
It was affirmed that Mustapha had been cleared for the competition earlier on, when he was listed for the Eaglets’ opening group game against Burkina Faso.
Though he was not on the bench for Thursday night’s semi-final, the hosts put Nigeria’s celebrations on hold by quickly protesting that their conquerors used an ineligible player.
The Cadet Mena formally protested after the match in Niamey that the Eaglets field a player whose international passport had expired.
Niger were seeking a second straight ouster of the Nigerians, as the landlocked northern neighbours also sent the Eaglets packing on home-and-away basis from qualifying for the main continental competition of 2017.
That elimination came just a year after Nigeria won a back-to-back title at the global level in Chile 2015, which took them to a record extending fifth conquest of the Cadet Mundial, having earlier emerged tops at China ’85, Japan ’93, Korea 2007 and UAE 2013.
However, Niger’s attempt of getting to the zonal qualifier through the boardroom fell flat, as an official said: “The protest against Nigeria player No 15 (Adam Mustapha) has been thrown out for lacking any merit and Saturday’s final will be between Nigeria and Ghana.”