Five–times champions, Nigeria swept past Hungary 4-2 in the opening match of the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup finals in Brazil at the weekend.
The Eaglets scored three goals in six second half minutes, and they were just a reward for their persistence and determination.
Just like what happened when both teams last met at the championship, the inaugural edition in China 34 years ago, Hungary drew the first blood.
Inside the first three minutes, Gyorgy Komaromi took full advantage of poor defensive organisation to slot past Goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu.
The Eaglets created chance after chance and eventually drew level when team captain, Samson Tijani sent Goalkeeper Kristjan Hegyi the wrong way from the penalty kick spot.
That was after Wisdom Ubani had been upended in the box.
Tijani’s equaliser was Nigeria’s 150th goal in the history of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
Yet, the Europeans would again go into the lead, when Samuel Major placed the ball clinically beyond Jinadu from a counter-attack as the Nigerian defence was again caught napping.
Still unruffled, the Eaglets continued to launch onslaught after onslaught, but were undone by a combination of short passes, hyper-ventilation and wayward shooting.
On resumption of the second half at the Estadio Olimpico in Goiania, the Eaglets took full control, dictating the pace and creating goalscoring opportunities.
But poor finishing by Ubani, Tijani, Ibrahim Sa’id and Olakunle Olusegun delayed the turn-around.
The introduction of Akinkunmi Amoo and Ibrahim Jabaar invigorated the Nigerian side, and in the 79th minute, defender Usman Ibrahim scored.
He was on the alert to head the ball into the net from a corner kick by Sa’id as goalkeeper Hegyi made a poor job of coming out to claim the ball.
Two minutes later, it was 3-2 after Jabaar’s dazzling run ended with a pullout from the left, which defender Oluwatimilehin Adeniyi headed past Hegyi even as Donat Orosz tried in vain to stop the contact.
Tijani made the scoreline safe for a hardworking Nigeria side in the 85th minute.
His angled free-kick from 23 yards out was deflected by the head of Botond Balogh to wrong-foot Hegyi.
It would be recalled that in the other match of the opening day, host nation Brazil pounded Canada 4-1 in Brasilia.
Nigeria will go up against Ecuador in their next match tomorrow at the same venue.
Victory is certain to take the Eaglets to the Round of 16, ahead of their final Group B encounter with Australia.
Tokyo 2020: Nigerian Wrestlers Are Medal Hopefuls -Coach
National wrestling coach Akuh Purity, has stated that Nigerian wrestlers going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have real medal chances this time, compared to the 2016 Olympics with less than a month to the games in Tokyo.
Purity, speaking in a chat with Tidesports source stressed that better exposure and competition experience already put the Nigerian wrestlers as medal prospects.
He added that the wrestlers had actually competed against the very best in the world in the run-in to the Tokyo Olympics and have an idea of almost whatever anyone of the top guns will offer.
Ex-D’Tigers Player Becomes NBA Head Coach
Former D’tigers player Ime Udoka has been appointed the new coach for Boston Celtics in the NBA.
Udoka had been considered a front-runner for the job, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last Friday that Udoka was among the candidates who received second interviews.
Udoka, 43, spent seven years on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio, including the 2013-14 season, when the Spurs won the NBA title.
He joined the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019 and was with the Nets last year.
Udoka was a member of the Nigerian national team, for whom he played at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
B/Volleyball: Nigeria Defeats Kenya In Olympic Qualifiers
Nigeria beat Kenya 2-1 (21-13, 19-21, 15-13) in the golden match to record their first win in the men’s category of the Tokyo Beach Volleyball Olympic Qualifiers in Morocco.
Nigeria Team A (Obayemi Ogunshina and Hilary Simon) lost to Kenya Team B 0-2 (15-21, 13-21) in the first encounter before Nigeria Team B consisting of Emenike Ezike and Emmanuel Chidebere defeated Kenya Team A (21-16, 21-16) in the second encounter.
The head coach of Nigeria beach volleyball team, Francis Imoudu commended the players for putting all their effort against Kenya.
Imoudu stated that Kenya gave Nigeria a good fight but the better side won the game.
He said, “This win is an indication that the men’s team is ready for their remaining opponents. I must commend the fighting spirit of the team because bookmakers had given the game to the Kenyans but we shocked Africa.
“Kenya is a good side but Nigeria did not show them any respect on the court. We will take each game as they come and all we need is the support of Nigerians home and abroad for these boys to succeed”.
Reacting to the victory, the Chairman Caretaker Committee of Nigeria Volleyball Federation, Engineer Musa Nimrod lauded the players for recording their first win of the beach volleyball Olympic qualifiers.
He said the Federation will continue to support the team adding that the players should show no respect to their remaining opponents in the qualifiers.
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