10-man Flying Eagles pick World Cup ticket, beat Congo 4-1
GOALKEEPER Joshua Enaholo’s sending off was expected to be a handicap for the team, but it became the push the Flying Eagles of Nigeria needed to thrash Congo 4-1 in the on-going African Youth Championship. Wednesday’s victory also gave the young Nigerians a ticket to the semifinal of the competition and the accompanying passage to the 2015 FIFA World Cup scheduled for New Zealand later in the year.
The Flying Eagles had on Sunday beaten hosts, Senegal, 3-1 in their opening game of the competition and sealed leadership of Group A on six points with Wednesday’s win.
Nigeria’s ascent to the top began with Ifeanyi Mathew’s fifth-minute goal off a pass from the bubbly Bernard Bulbwa. But the celebration was halted momentarily when Goalkeeper Enaholo got a straight red card for upending a goal bound Congolese attacker. Enahoro was replaced by Giwa FC of Jos’ youngster, Olorunleke Ojo with Chidera Ezeh going off.
However, those who thought the one-man disadvantage would tilt the balance to Congo were proved wrong when two-goal hero, Skipper Musa Mohammed, made it two for Nigeria off a well-taken penalty kick.
Rather than sit back and pick the Congolese on the counter, the Manu Garba boys continued pile pressure on their opponents. But the first half ended in the 2-0.
Ten minutes into the second half, Taiwo Awoniyi mesmerized his way into the Congolese box, but he was brought down for the Flying Eagles second penalty of the game. Mohammed duly dispatched the spot kick to take Nigeria’s tally to 3-0.
On the 19th minute, the Congolese got a hope raiser when Ganvoula Mboussy beat Olorunleke to reduce scores to 3-1. But such hopes as they had was dampened by Awoniyi midway into the game when he reacted fastest to score the Flying Eagles fourth goal.
The result means Nigeria became the first African country to qualify for the New Zealand 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
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