Nigeria recovered from two semi-final defeats to clinch the bronze medals of the season two of the Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Africa Championship hosted in Agege, Lagos.
The male and female ARS teams defeated their counterparts from Tanzania 2-0 and Uganda 4-1 respectively in the third place matches decided on Sunday at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos.
In the female third place match, Uganda shot into the lead in the 25th minute from a beautifully taken free-kick. But their joy was short-lived as Nigeria responded two minutes later through Alekiri Owabie. She then put Nigeria ahead in the 32nd minute to earn her fourth goal of the tournament. The Most Valuable Player of the ARS National Championships, Kafayat Shittu increased Nigeria’s tally to three in the 45th minute. Alekiri completed the route with a hat trick when she scored in the 56th minute to put a finishing seal on what has been a huge experience for the Nigerian girls.
In the male category, Nigeria defeated Championship surprise team, Tanzania 2-0 to win the bronze medal with goals from Patrick Dakolu and Olugbenga Folamomi. Both goals were scored in the second half.
The Nigerian teams had started the tournament on bright notes winning their various groups at the group stages. They qualified for the third place matches after failing to scale over the strong opposition put up by the Niger boys and the Kenyan girls.
The Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Africa Championship season two was hosted by Nigeria in the city of Lagos across four match centres which included Agege Township Stadium, Legacy Pitch, National Institute for Sports Playing Field and the Main bowl of the National Stadium, Surulere.
It started with a gala night on Sunday in honour of the participating countries and tournament officials, followed by an opening ceremony and tournament opening group matches at the Agege Township Stadium, Agege.
Airtel Rising Stars Africa Football Championship, in its second season, is Africa’s biggest Under-17 grassroots tournament and the only one with strong consideration for gender equality with the incorporation of the Girls Category.