by Victor Oladapo-Ariyo
This final is the best Nigerian match I have personally watched in a long time. Nigeria has now set a record of winning the tournament four times and subsequently setting a new record of most goals scored in a single tournament at this level with 26 goals in the competition.
This is one of the best moments for football lovers to be proud to be a Nigerian both at home and in the diaspora. The present mood and atmosphere where I reside is simply crazy. The reason being that Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets just won the 15th edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in UAE. It is something of great joy to win two important trophies in a year for Nigerian football followers.
To be honest, I started watching the tournament during the round of 16 matches when the golden eaglets of Nigeria met with their counterparts from Iran. The Eaglets had earlier trounced the ‘El Tri’ as the young lads from Mexico are called six goals to one in the opening match of their group before having a scare in their second group game against eventual 3rd place winners Sweden which ended in a 3-3 draw and finally taking Iraq to the cleaners in the final group game with a resounding 5 nil victory. They went on demolishing Iran, Uruguay and Sweden in the Round of 16, quarter-final and semi-final to set up a
rematch with the Mexicans.
Going into the match, most followers of the tournament had little or no doubt that the Nigerian boys were going to emerge victorious due to two important facts; firstly they had earlier whitewashed the Mexicans in the group stage by 6 goals to 1 and secondly, the golden eaglets were prolific in attack as their goal scoring record before the match showed it (23 goals). The lads played with such desire, composure and skill coupled with aggression and team work. Nevertheless I knew the Mexicans were going to be a little bit tough because they would have learnt some lessons from the previous encounter and would want to restore some pride or even get a revenge and this they showed in the early stages of the match as they dictated proceedings but couldn’t last long as the eaglets overpowered them.
The atmosphere inside the Mohammad Bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi where the final took place was so rapturous as thousands of Nigerian supporters were in their traditional green and white outfits armed with placards and musical instruments to cheer on their beloved eaglets to victory which they perfectly did. Even former Super Eagles captain and Nigerian football legend Kanu Nwankwo ‘Papilo’ could not hide his joy after Kelechi Iheanacho scored the second goal as he joined in dancing the golden eaglets trademark dance from the stands. This final is the best Nigerian match I have personally watched in a long time. Nigeria has now set a record of winning the tournament four times and subsequently setting a new record of most goals scored in a single tournament at this level with 26 goals in the competition.
I don’t want to write too much because it’s celebration galore all the way but I will like to specially congratulate Kelechi Iheanacho for the golden ball and silver boot award, goalkeeper Dele Alampasu for the golden glove award especially after his heroics in this final and to the team captain Musa Mohammed for that wonderful free-kick goal and for his own award too. Much credit is also given to the other members of the team, they were all wonderful in this tournament. A very big congratulations to coach Manu Garba and his entire crew for guiding these boys to achieve this great feat. I hope and pray that these lads grow into renowned football stars and integrate into the senior national team. Meanwhile, they are the men of the year now and they deserve to be rewarded handsomely by the government and corporate organisations but before that let’s just spend some ‘Arab money’ and dance ‘Skelewu’ (Lol). Congratulations once again Golden Eaglets and thanks for making Nigerians proud!
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