Nigeria Monday morning extended their dominance at U17 level when they won a fifth World Cup by beating fellow West Africans Mali 2-0 ...
Nigeria Monday morning extended their dominance at U17 level when they won a fifth World Cup by beating fellow West Africans Mali 2-0 in Chile.
Nigeria’s other conquests at this level were achieved in 1985, 1993, 2007 and 2013. But Monday’s triumph was the first achieved outside Asia and they are now only the second team after Brazil to successfully defend the trophy.
Last year, both teams clashed at a sub-regional WAFU tournament in Togo and on both occasions Nigeria won 2-0.
Victor Osimhen set a new tournament goals record of 10 goals when he fired home for the Eaglets in the 56th minute after he was set up by Funsho Bamgboye inside the box.
Bamgboye, who was suspended for the semi-final against Mexico but back in the starting XI in lace of Orji Okonkwo, turned scorer three minutes later when he latched on to another superb pass from the right before he drilled home to double Nigeria’s advantage.
In the 52nd minute, Osimhen let fly with the left foot, but the diving Mali goalkeeper pushed it away from danger spectacularly. Moments later, Udochukwu Anumudu’s goal-bound effort scrapped the crossbar. Akpan Udoh, in goal for Nigeria, kept out Mali in the 77th minute as they chased for an equaliser.
In the closing minutes of the final Mali threatened the Eaglets goal but they always fell short of getting on the scoreboard. The highlight of the first half of this all-African U17 World Cup final was Nigeria’s missed penalty after just four minutes as both teams returned to the dressing room after a scoreless first half.
Mali defender Chato was penalised for handling the ball inside his box a cross from the right by Samuel Chukwueze, but Ebere Osinachi’s penalty was kept out by Mali goalkeeper Diarra Samuel and Osinachi’s header off the rebound came off the post.
Eaglets skipper Kelechi Nwakali fired at goal after 19 minutes, but the goalkeeper had it well covered. Nigeria goalkeeper Udoh then pulled off a big save in the 29th minute off a flicked header by big Mali forward Boubacar Traore.
The game then swung to the other end of the pitch, where Bamgboye fired home from inside the box, but his attempt was deflected for a corner.
Overall, it was an entertaining end-to-end action with both sides playing a high tempo game with crunchy tackles being dished at the start of the contest.