Published On: Sat, Nov 9th, 2013
Sports | By admin | 594 Views |

Golden Eaglets Rule The World


Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets, beat their Mexican counterpart 3-0 in the final game of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Championship, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, to make it a record four wins for the country, having won it in 1985, 1993 and 2007.

Nigeria had earlier defeated Mexico 6-1 in the first group game and against all expectations, the final match was no different, as the Eaglets repeated the feat, this time with three goals despite being outplayed and out-possessed for most periods of the game.

With yesterday’s victory, Nigeria becomes the most successful team in the history of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, one better than South American giants Brazil. After holding out and showing so much persistence for the duration of the game, when the final whistle went in the UAE capital, the pitch erupted in chants of “yes, yes, yes!” a refrain of the Nigerians which went on to become one they made after every goal scored for the duration of the tournament.

The Mexicans approached the game with full force, keeping the ball for a full seven minutes at the start of the game, moving it around skillfully and making the Nigerians chase them all over the park. The younger El Tri managed the first chance on goal after six minutes when Ivan Ocho, who scored twice in the semi-final win over Argentina saw his off-balance header pushed over the bar by Golden Eaglets’ shot-stopper, Dele Alampasu.

Alampasu was called to duty again in the eight minute, but Nigeria benefitted from a classic counter-attack when tournament revelation Kelechi Iheanacho sped up the pitch. With just one Mexican defender in position, Iheanacho laid the ball onto Taiwo Awoniyi who fed it to Musa Yahaya. Yahaya should have shot home, anyway, but Erick Aguirre intercepted his kick and fired into his own net.  The search for a second goal intensified in the 38th minute when Yahaya rattled the crossbar with a stunning effort from 20 yards out.

The second half resumed with a frenzy of attacks at both ends of the pitch, but it was the Nigerians who made theirs count one more time. In the 58th minute, Captain Muhammed unleashed a swirling shot which Gudino, the Mexican goalie, parried into the path of Iheanacho and he made no mistake. Iheanacho dispatched his sixth goal of the tournament.

Captain Musa Muhammed made the evening better with his 80th minute goal, curling a sublime free-kick into the top corner.

Besides emerging champion for the fourth time, the Nigerians won the FIFA Fair Play Award. The Best Goalkeeper Award went to Alampasu, while Kelechi Iheanacho won the Silver Boot for second highest goal-scorer. He was also voted the tournament’s best player.

Speaking after the team’s victory, Coach Garba Manu said his boys have left an indelible mark as the most consistent and entertaining team in the history of the tournament.

He described the team as the future of Nigeria’s national team. “We have left an indelible mark by emerging the most consistent and entertaining team.  We have also scored the most goals in the history of the tournament. I believe these boys will graduate to U-20 level and that they are the future of Nigerian football,” he said.

Manu also revealed his readiness to take on any managerial position offered him as a result of his recent feat.

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