Nigeria exited the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt following a goalless draw with South Africa on Friday evening.
The defending champions came into the final group game needing a win to make sure of qualification to the semi-final, but were unable to find the breakthrough, and looked decidedly second-best against their South African counterparts. The draw saw them finish with four points from three games, only good enough for third place.
Indeed, it was David Notoane’s side who came close to scoring on numerous occasions, but Nigeria goalkeeper Abubakar Adamu made a number of vital interventions to keep the score barren.
Teboho Mokoena also hit the upright with a rasping drive from range, with the rebound bouncing off the head of Abubakar and out for a corner, much to the relief of the Nigerian side.
The clearest opening for Imama Amapakabo’s side came late on, as substitute Sunday Faleye was found unmarked at the back post with a perfectly-flighted ball, but his header was wayward and bounced well wide.
The result puts Nigeria out of the running for the Olympic Games football event next year, one in which Nigeria has won a clean sweep of medals, the most recent of which was a bronze at Rio 2016.