Lome - Golden Eaglets on Monday made good their promise of
winning their first international match at the WAFU B Under-17 Tournament in
Togo by edging out Mali 2-0 in the first of their Group B's double header at the
Nigeria's first goal was courtesy of Najeeb Hamza via a
penalty kick in the 34th minute when striker Orji Okonkwo was badly brought
down by the Malian goalkeeper inside the box while Dauda Abdulganiyu secured the
second goal in the 80th minute.
The match which was
played under floodlight, was watched by an enthusiastic crowd including Nigeria's
High Commissioner to Togo, Ambassador Mathew Sunday Adoli; hordes of people from
the Nigerian business and student community in Lome.
Golden Eaglets clearly made their intention known soon after
Ivorian referee, Bievenue Sinko signaled the Malians to take the kick off.
The Nigerian youngsters nearly went into the lead barely
five minutes into the game when Dauda Abdulganiyu shot was deflected by the
Malian goalkeeper, Traore Alou. Two minutes later, Okonkwo had a header also touched
away by the agile Alou yet again.
There was a flawless understanding between Ganiyu, Okonkwo
and petit Kehinde Ayinde in the attack as the Golden Eagles mounted ceaseless pressure
on their West African foes. Ayinde spirited effort in the 25th minute after
dribbling his way into the box was equally foiled by the Malian goalkeeper.
Then in the 33rd minute, Okonkwo broke free and was racing
towards goal alone only to be hacked down by the Alou for what was clearly a red
card offence since he was the last man of the Malian defence. But referee Sinko
'erroneously' flashed a yellow card but the resultant penalty kick was scored
by Hamza in the 34th minute.
On the end, Golden Eaglets' goalkeeper Amos Benjamin was
virtually on holiday throughout the duration of the first half but on
resumption of the second half, it was the Malians that displayed better
The search for more goals by the Golden Eaglets to
consolidate resulted in several of the players suffering from cramp. But after several
missed opportunities from both sides, it was the adventurous Ganiyu that
finally sealed victory for the Golden Eaglets when he waltzed through the
Malian defence and fired a shot into the top corner for the second goal of the
match in the 80th minute.
Both teams would again return to Stade Municipal on
Wednesday for the second of their double -header to determine who tops Group B
following the last minute withdrawal of Niger from the competition.
Golden Eaglets XI vs. Mali
A. Benjamin - A. Joshua,K. Gbadamosi; N. Hamza; A.
Bamidele;- J. Ipalibo(S. Abdullahi 43rd); K.Michael(D. Femi 70th ) Nwakali; D. Abdulganiyu-
O.Okonkwo; K. Ayinde.
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