Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets are through to the second round of the FIFA Under 17 World Cup ongoing in Brazil and their hunt for their sixth title is still very much alive.
The Eaglets had to stage a comeback from a 2-1 setback against Ecuador just like it was in their first game with Hungary and after a close 3-2 victory have qualified to the next round of the cadet championship with a game to spare.
It was Ibrahim Said show for Nigeria at the same stadium they used in the last game with the European side after the youngster plundered three goals to stop the resistance of the South American side on Tuesday night.
Unlike the last game against Hungary when the Eaglets allowed the Hungarian to strike first, it was Nigeria that drew the first blood in the fifth minute through Said but they allowed Ecuador to level the scores almost immediately through an unfortunate own goal by Nigerian goalkeeper, Daniel Jinadu in the 10th minute.
The Eaglets restricted their game to the middle and it was difficult for them to pass through bigger and taller Ecuadorians and thus the first half ended 1-1 apiece.
It was the same dingdong affair in the second half until the 55th minute when the Video Assistant Referee adjudged that Charles Etim clipped the ankle of rampaging Ecuador attacker in his bid to clear the ball out of danger.
The VAR awarded a penalty against Nigeria which was duly converted by Johan Mina in the 55th minute after lengthy review from the VAR and the referee.
The Eaglets, however, saved their best for last when Said again struck twice in the spate of four minutes in the 85th and 89th minutes to ensure that Nigeria had the last laugh in Brazil on Tuesday.
With six points from two games, the Eaglets are through to the next round of the 2019 FIFA Under 17 World Cup and they will need just a solitary point against Australia to emerge as the first in the group irrespective of other games in Group B.
For his hat-trick and his general contributions throughout the duration of the Group B tie, Ibrahim Said was adjudged the Man of the Match and he is the second Nigerian to receive such accolade at the current World Cup after skipper Samson Tijani got the same recognition in the Eaglets’ 4-2 win over Hungary.
In the same vein, Angola who are making their debut at the Under 17 World Cup have become the second African to qualify for the next round after they also conquered Canada 2-1 in a Group A tie.
It was Zini that netted first for the Angolan cadet side in the 31st minute but they allowed Canada to equalize in the 49th minute through Jacen Russell-Rowe.
The Southern African, however, saved their best for last when David struck the deciding goal in the 90th minute to the admiration of their fans.
Angola have won their second consecutive game at the ongoing cadet World Cup and have picked one of the tickets to the Round of 16 just like Nigeria.
They started their campaign with a 2-1 win over New Zealand and they made it a double with the narrow win against Canada on Tuesday night.
They will only play Brazil who are the host of the World Cup for pride knowing that only a point will be sufficient for them to emerge as group leaders