Beat Mali 2-0 to win U-17 World Cup
Twenty-two years after Nigeria defeated Ghana in Japan to win its second FIFA Under-17 World Cup, the Golden Eaglets in the early hours of this morning in Chile beat another West African country, Mali 2-0 to retain the cadet trophy.
Tournament top scorer, Victor Osimhen, and Funsho Bamgboye were the heroes for the Golden Eaglets in Vina del Mar with their second half strikes in quick succession ensuring the trophy remained in Nigeria.
In winning the trophy, the Golden Eaglets, with former Zamalek and FC Barcelona attacker Emmanuel Amuneke as coach, made history as the first team to win the championship five times and the second country to take the title back-to-back.
Nigeria first won the cup in 1985 when President Muhammadu Buhari was military Head of State.
This morning’s game was also the eighth time Nigeria would play in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The defending champions, who beat Mexico in the final two years ago, registered their intention of taking the day as early as the second minute when they tore into the Malian defence only for Chato to stop Bamgboye’s cross with his arm.
The referee pointed to the spot for a penalty, but goalkeeper Samuel Diarra saved Osinachi Ebere’s effort.
But rather than being demoralised by the penalty miss, the young Nigerians took the fight to their opponents with Osimhen, the arrowhead of the Golden Eaglets’ attack.
The second half saw the game burst into life, with Amuneke’s wards turning on the magic.
Good approach play by substitute Chinedu Madueke saw him tee up Osimhen for his record-breaking goal, seeing him surpass the nine scored by Florent Sinama Pongolle in 2001 and Souleymane Coulibaly ten years later.
The holders doubled their advantage mere minutes later, with Bamgboye bursting down the Nigerian left before smashing a powerful effort at goal, Diarra standing little chance.
As was the case in 1993, where Kanu Nwankwo and Wilson Oruma won the Most Valuable Player and Highest Goal Scorer awards, Nwakali and Osimhen were judged the best player and goal king respectively.