Despite beating Algeria 4-1 in their last group match, Nigeriaâ€™s U-23 Eagles crashed out of the Africa Olympic Qualifying Championship Friday night.
Nigeriaâ€™s exit from the tournament was made possible by the Junior Teranga Lions of Senegl who defeated Morocco 1-0 in their last match in Group.
While Coach Austin Eguavoen and his team were shown the way out, Senegal made it through to the U-23 African Championship semi-finals after a hard fought win over hosts, Morocco, who also qualified to the semis despite the loss.
Both teams finished on 6 points but Senegal tops the group and will stay in Tangiers for the semi final, while Morocco now travel to Marrakech for their next game. Nigeria are in the third position on the table with three points, while the Algerians were last team on the log also with the three points.
Spain-based midfielder Raheem Lawal conjured the magic for Nigeria after a first half that saw the U-23 Eagles fall behind.
Lawal, who first announced his intention to wreck havoc with a 15th minute crack at goal, drew his team level after 47 minutes courtesy of a brilliant free kick from the top of the Algerian box after the lively Gbolahan Salami was brought down.
The midfielder was a bit lucky for his second goal in the 75th minute when he fired with the left foot from distance and it crashed against Ali Guechi and wrong footed goalkeeper Mazouzi in the Algerian post.
In the 82nd minute, Algeriaâ€™s Abeid from English club Newcastle United was sent off for his second booking of the night and that seemed to open the way for Nigeria to make hay.
Lawal netted his third goal in the 86th minute. It was a brilliant solo run as he surged forward into the vital area past several markers before he slotted under the Algerian shot stopper.
The man of the match crowned a great day in the office three minutes from time when he set up Daniel Uchechi for an easy finish and Nigeriaâ€™s fourth goal.
After a difficult start against a bright-looking Nigeria, Algeria came back into the picture to start controlling the game especially in the midfield.
They were rewarded just two minutes before the interval when striker Baghdad Bounedjah connected home from a well-delivered low cross from the left.
Nigeria looked a different team to the one who had lost to both Morocco and Senegal in their previous matches. They attacked with purpose and passed the ball more comfortably among themselves.
And it would be star man Lawal, who took the first crack at goal after 15 minutes, but his effort from distance missed its mark by not much.