The Warri Wolves midfielder converted a penalty midway into the second half to secure victory for the Dream Team against a determined Senegal side, cheered on by an expectant home crowd.
The victory of the Nigerians cannot be complete without mention of the heroic saves from Daniel, who was the busier of the two shot stoppers and his team’s best player on the pitch.
Both teams got off to a blistering start but it was Senegal who dominated possession firing from every angle in search of the opener.
And their consistent raids upfront yielded some decent chances but Nigeria goalie Daniel stood between them and the opener.
On 12 minutes, Samba Ndiaye put leading marksman Keita through but Daniel denied the latter in a one-on-one situation.
Four minutes later, Daniel was again to his side’s rescue with a diving save from an Ndiaye free-kick at the edge of the penalty area.
Nigeria tried to contain the host with occasional moves upfront and had their best chance on 42 minutes from a well-rehearsed three-man move. Midfielder Oghenekaro’s delicate chip found Junior Ajayi, who slid past Senegal goalie Pape Ndiaye only for Adama Mbengue to weather the storm with a timely clearance.
Daniel was on hand yet again to deny the host the opener on 58 minutes saving with his foot from a Ismaila Sarr goal bound shot on a one-on-one situation.
The turning point of the game came after the hour mark when Nigeria coach Samson Siasia introduced FIFA U-17 World Cup top scorer Victor Osimhen for God’s Power Tower which will pay off minutes later.
The Nigerians pressed for the opener and on 71 minutes forced a blunder from the Senegalese backline and hard-pressed defender Ousseynou Thioune deliberately tried to stop the ball from entering the post. Thioune was sent off and Oghenekaro converted for the penalty for the opener to silence the home crowd.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, the host fought hard for the equalizer but had to give in to their first defeat at the championship after Elhadji Pape Diaw headed wide from a Moussa Wague free-kick on the stroke of full time.
Nigeria awaits the winner of Algeria – South Africa in Saturday’s final whilst Senegal will face the loser for the final slot for the Olympic Games.