Coach Samson Siasia’s Dream Team VI (Nigeria’s uU-23 side) yesterday recorded a win in their first in Senegal in their quest to pick a qualification ticket for Rio 2016 Olympics. Two goals from Junior Ajayi and a third from Muhammed Usman inspired Nigeria to a 3-2 win over Mali at the 2015 Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Senegal on Sunday. Adama Niane had his 37th second effort kiss the cross bar as the Malians dominated the early part of the game. Soon, Samson Siasia’s lads woke up from their slumber and gradually came alive and got rewarded in the 16th minute when Ajayi gave Nigeria the lead. The CS Sfaxien forward converted with a back heel after Stanley Dimgba had laid a cross into Les Aiglons‘ 18 yard box after his terrific run down their defence. All efforts from Cheick Kone’s side to equalise proved futile as Souleymane Sissoko and Adama Traore forced goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel to a couple of saves.
Usman doubled Dream Team VI’s lead in the 34th minute when he turned in a loose ball after great footwork from Sincere Seth. With two minutes to the end of the first half, Ajayi completed his brace from a rebound off goalkeeper Djigui Diarra’s save from captain Azubuike Okechukwu’s rocket outside the penalty area. On resumption of the second half, Mali attacked Nigeria in their numbers and twice punished Siasia’s team’s shaky defence. First it was Niane who scored from the penalty spot on 55 minutes after he was fouled inside the box by Oghenekaro Etebo before Souleymane Sissoko netted his side’s second ten minutes later. Kone’s team chased for an equaliser in vain as Dream Team VI held firm to the slim lead in the tension soaked game at the Caroline Faye Stadium. With this victory Nigeria top Group B with three points after Group B opponents Egypt and Algeria had settled for a 1-1 draw in the opener. A win for them against Egypt on Wednesday will see them book an early flight to the semi-final of the competition. Algeria will take on Mali in the other game. – Goal reportage.