Monday, November 9, 2015 12:59 am
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets have retained the FIFA U-17 World Cup, beating fellow Africans Mali, 2-0 at Vina Del Mar in Chile. The Nigerians became only the second side to retain the FIFA U-17 World Cup .
The two goals were scored within 3 minutes, with Eaglets hitman, Victor Osimhen opening scoring at 56th minute. Three minutes after, Funso Bamgboye, who came as a substitute for Osinachi Ebere, powered in the second goal.
Ebere had wasted Nigeria’s first opportunity for a clear first goal in the first half, after he played a penalty right into the waiting hands of Malian goalkeeper, Samuel Diarra.
The penalty kick came as both sides were just finding their rhythm in the opening exchanges. Mali’s Chato was the culprit as he handled the ball inside the box.
Ebere saw his low effort saved brilliantly by Diarra, and his follow-up header hit the bar before a third bite of the cherry was blocked by the Malian defence.
The second half saw the game burst into life, with coach Emmanuel Amuneke’s words clearly working their magic on the Golden Eaglets.
Osimhen shrugged off the challenge of Mamadou Fofana before hitting a wonderful dipping half volley towards goal, which Diarra spectacularly saved.
Udochukwu Anumudu then smashed a thunderous effort at goal, which rebounded back off the crossbar and was cleared away.
Mali did not heed those warnings, as Nigeria looked more daring and intent on finishing off the job in the pursuit of Nigeria’s fifth title win.
Then it happened, in the 56th minute, from a good approach play by substitute Chinedu Madueke which saw him tee up Osimhen for his record-breaking goal.
The goal saw him surpass the nine goals scored by Florent-Sinama Pongolle in 2001 and Souleymane Coulibaly ten years later.
The title-holders doubled their advantage three minutes later, with Bamgboye bursting down the Nigerian left before smashing a powerful effort at goal, and leaving Diarra with little chance.
In spite of a couple of late chances for Mali, from corner kicks, Nigeria retained possession for large spells and saw the game out to retain their crown
Nigeria have now won the cup a record five times, while Osimhen also recorded a personal record of 10 goals in the competition, FIFA’s all time goal record at this level of World Cup.
The victory must be good news for President Muhammadu Buhari who had the distinction of receiving the first cup won by the Golden Eaglets in 1985. Buhari then was Nigeria’s military leader. Thirty years after, Buhari has recorded the distinction of receiving the cup twice.