Santiago - Golden Eaglets striker Orji Okonkwo has described
his 35-yard screamer which fetched second goal for Nigeria in the 4-2 defeat of
Mexico in the semifinals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup as his best ever.
Okonkwo had played minor part in the tournament until fate
thrust him into the fray, as replacement for Funsho Bamgboye who was suspended
after two yellow cards. The boy grabbed the bull by the horns to score what is
known in Nigerian football parlance as 'intercontinental ballistic missile.'
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"I have never scored a goal like this before and you
cannot practice this kind of goal," admitted Okwonkwo, the first boy in a
family with six other children. The goal I scored against Mexico today is a wonderful
goal and I'm dedicating the goal to my mum who has been there for me;
challenging me to be the best.
"My dad died last year; I remember him too but it is my
mum that has been there for me all this while. I thank her so much," he
Okonkwo, is one of the team’s pacesetter performers who
scored thrice, including a goal against Mali on April 21, 2014, at the
sub-regional West African Football Union (WAFU) B Tournament in Togo where the
Golden Eaglets finished third behind Benin and Togo.
Over 21,000 spectators including NFF President Amaju
Pinnick, saw Okonkwo’s top -of -the -drawer goal but there was another person
on his mind when his lively shot sailed into the net: Emmanuel Amuneke.
"Today, I want to thank Coach Emmanuel Amuneke for
pushing me so hard," said the player, who was sanctioned and kept out of
the squad for months prior to the African U-17 Championship in Niger Republic.
He continued: “He is a nice person who wants the best for
us. Before the match, he called me and said: 'Orji, this is your chance, you
can't afford to let yourself and Nigerians down' and when I scored, I kept
saying 'coach, coach, coach’. I’m
grateful to him,” added the teenager who is two-time winner of the annual
Karanka Reveria Invitational Tournament in Croatia in 2013 and 2015 with Abuja
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