Cote d’Ivoire crowned champions, beat Nigeria 15-14
• Black Stallions set eyes on President’s Cup
Cote d’Ivoire broke Nigerians’ hearts yesterday at the on-going West African Regional Rugby Series when they defeated the Black Stallions by 15 to 14 at the Nduom Stadium Elmina, Ghana. They win crowned the Ivoirians champions of the region.
The Ivoirians, who defeated Ghana on Sunday in the first game of the championship, only needed a victory over Nigeria to claim the African title in the three-nation championship. But it did not come easy for the champions.
The Black Stallions game made the first try in the first minute of the game through Jude Abrakaon and Joshua Etim scoring the conversion to earn the team seven points. But the hard-fighting Cote d’Ivoire equalised within a few minutes to draw level at 14-14 in the first half of the encounter.
As the teams returned for hostilities in the second stanza of the game, the attack-minded Black Stallions at the early part of the match got another try through Ibrahim Omar and a second conversion by Jushua Etim, who earlier got a yellow card in the first half to take the lead to 14-7.
Cote d’Ivoire were relentless on the ball and got the opportunity to score another try, but they lost their conversion to keep the game at 14-13. They, however, scored a late try to end the game at 15 to 14.
Speaking after the game, Black Stallions Captain, Onoro Onyiza said Nigeria fought hard to win the game but complacency in some areas affected the outcome.
“We gave our best but it is really unfortunate that the game ended like this. But not withstanding the result, our focus now is on Ghana on Saturday.
“Winning the game will give us the President’s Cup and also improve Nigeria’s rating in rugby. We will forge ahead to come out successful in future engagements,” he said.
Also speaking on the game, Black Stallions’ coach, Bronson Weir said he was delighted by the team’s performance, saying the slim defeat would not in any way affect the Stallions’ build up against Ghana.
“The game of rugby can go any way. The Stallions fought hard but could not win. This does not mean the team is not a good side. The players came out strong and poised to outshine their opponents.
“We will continue to give our best and ensure the game of rugby is popular in Nigeria. I will not relent to select a formidable squad against Ghana. Every match is important,” he declared.
Also speaking after the match, Cote d’Ivoire coach, Sounahoro Bakary, commended the Black Stallions for their performance, saying that keeping his team for a long time together gave the West African side the victory.
“The game was tough. Winning Nigeria with just a point is not easy. The Cote d’Ivoire team is mostly made of young domestic players, who have been together from the U-21 squad.
“Winning this championship means a lot to the country because it shows that we are improving in the game of rugby. The standard of the competition is impressive based on the quality of games between Nigeria and Ghana.
The team would go home and work on our lapses to get better in subsequent engagements,” he said.
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