Abuja - The Golden Eaglets on Saturday stayed on course for a record fourth title, after a 2-0 victory over Uruguay at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE.
The Nigerian under-17 male football side beat the 2011 competition runners-up after one goal in each half from Taiwo Awoniyi in their quarter-finals clash in Sharjah.
The win gave them a berth in the semi-finals to underline their title aspirations, and will now meet Sweden in the semi-finals on Tuesday, November 5 in Dubai.
It will be the three-time champions’ seventh semi-final appearance in 10 appearances in the competition which began in 1985 and is now in its 15th edition.
Uruguay had the first chance of note in the game against Nigeria, after only six minutes when Enrique Etcheverry crossed low through the penalty area.
But the Golden Eaglets took the game by the scruff of the neck after 18 minutes, opening scoring from a fabulous piece of creative interplay.
Kelechi Iheanacho, scorer of five goals earlier in the competition, laid on a wonderful through ball from deep in midfield for Awoniyi to latch onto.
The striker made no mistake, by hitting home to the back post for his second strike of the tournament.
Stunned into action, the South Americans had a decent spell shortly after, with Kevin Mendez and Otormin both testing goalkeeper Dele Alampasu from distance with powerful efforts.
But it was Nigeria who controlled most of the possession and created the more dangerous chances.
Team captain Musa Muhammed’s cross from the right in the 34th minute was only just missed by Awoniyi who appeared to be clearly in the mood for goals.
The second half began with a good number of scoring chances for Nigeria, with Awoniyi and Musa Yahaya both going close to scoring after creating space for themselves.
In the 68th minute, Iheanacho turned and fired from the edge of the box only for his shot to come flying off the back of a brave Uruguayan defender.
But the knockout blow finally came in the 79th minute, when Iheanacho picked up a perfect pass at the edge of the area from Chidiebere Nwakali.
The Uruguayan defence swarmed round him, but he had the presence of mind to pull the ball across the face of goal for Awoniyi to stab home inside the far post.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria/Sweden semi-final clash will be a replay of their 3-3 Group F draw in Al Ain City on October 22.
Sweden had finished third from the group after Nigeria and Mexico, but had gone on to beat both Japan and Honduras 2-1 each in the second round and quarter-finals respectively.
In the other semi-final pairing, Argentina who stopped African champions Cote d'Ivoire 2-1 on Saturday will meet defending champions Mexico who beat Brazil 11-10 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw.