LUKA PETRINEC / AIPS* in ABU DHABI: The amazing speed with which defence turned into lethal attack brought Nigeria a record fourth world under-17 crown in the final of FIFA World Cup UAE 2013.
No-one could argue that they were well worth their 3-0 victory over champions Mexico. Consolation for Mexico was in the way they stuck to their task even though the match had run away from them very early.
This was a second win for Golden Eaglets against El Tri in this tournament. The first was in their opening match in the group stage when they destroyed the central Americans 6-1.
The game started at a lively pace and the first eight minutes brought three good opportunities to score. First Nigeria’s Musa Yahaya had a good opportunity in fourth minute but his header went just over the bar. Two minutes later, Mexico striker Alejandro Diaz shot wide from close range shot at the other end.
In the eighth minute Mexico’s top scorer Ivan Ochoa outjumped the Nigerians defence but his heaer was tipped over the bar by Nigeria goalkeeper Dele Alampasu.
Then, after a corner by Mexico, Nigeria cleared and raced away on the counter-attack. Awoniyi set up Kelechi Iheanacho and, just as he prepared to shoot, so unlucky Mexican Erick Aguirre turned the ball into his own net.
Mexico respondedd immediately but the closest they came was in the 31st minute when Ulises Jaimes saw a header again well saved by Nigeria goalkeeper Almpasu.
The Africans then increased the pressure on Mexico’s defence and created three great chances . First Ihaenacho’s superb pass found Awoniyi who dribbled wide of Mexico’s goalkeeper Raul Gudino only to shoot behind the post. Then Musa Yahaya hit the bar before Awoniyi’s spectacular bicycle kick was saved by the busy Gudino.
At the beginning of the second half there was a new setback for El Tri when an angled drive from Nigeria captain Musa Muhammad was palmed out by Gudino but only straight to of the fantastic Ihaenacho who shot into an empty net and ensured a fourth title. It was Ihenacho’s sixth goal of the tournament – five of them against Mexico.
Mexico tried to get back into the match but all hope vanished in the 81st minute after a superb free kick by Musa Muhammed ricocheted into goal off Gudino’s left-hand post.
That third goal meant that the Golden Eaglets, with 26 goals, had surpassed Germany’s record of most goals scored in a single edition of an U-17 World Cup.
Best player: Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria). 2 Nathan (Brazil). 3, Ivan Ochoa (Mexico).
Top scorer: Valmir Berisha (Sweden) 7 goals; Iheanacho (Nigeria) ; Boschilia (Brazil) 6.
Best goalkeeper: Dele Alampasu (Nigeria)
Fair play: Nigeria
* 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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