ENITAN OBADINA / AIPS* in DUBAI: Nigeria posted a five star performance to seal top spot in Group F at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013, after routing Iraq 5-0.
With vociferous fans backing them to the hilt, Nigeria opened the flood gates as early as the fourth minute with two quickfire goals.
In the fourth minute, Musa Yahaya took on three defenders on his way towards the goal but was hacked down by Iraq captain, Mohammed Salam. Nigeria’s captain Mohammed Musa sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the resultant penalty to register Nigeria’s first of the night.
Seconds later Nigeria started another counter attacking move with Kelechi Iheanacho moving the ball to Mohammed Salam on the right so the captain could then cut it back for Nwakali to lash home No2.
Yahaya Musa scored the third after starting a passing move involving Iheanacho and Awoniyi who slotted the ball back for Yahaya to sidefoot into the net.
Iraq managed to put together only occasional attacking moves nd the fourth goal soon followed with Yahaya converting a half volley after a poor corner clearance by Iraq goalkeeper.
Iraq came out for the second half intent on damage limitation. The plan worked as the Nigerians were reduced to only a few chances.
The Iraqis even grew in confidence themelves and, in the 85thminute, it took a double save from the Nigerian goalkeeper and a goal line clearance by Chigozie Obasi to deny them a consolation goal.
Five minutes later, Chigozie Obasi completed the scoring with a ferocious shot from a lay off by Akinjide in the 90th minute.
Iraqi coach Adlool Muwafaq said the two early goals ” ruined our players , especially since they are too young.” However he was sure they had all benefited from the experience of playing at the finals.
Nigeria’s Garba Manu offered congratulations to the Iraqis “because they were brave,” while also conceding mistakes by his own team.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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