The U17 team of Nigeria yesterday recorded a 5-4 win over host nation Tanzania in the first game of the Africa U17 Cup of Nations played yesterday. Nigeria let slip a two goal lead and were at a point trailing the host 3-4 before a stunning comeback saw them win 5-4.
Owngoalnigeria.com selects five things we observed during the game.
1. Manu Garba’s Playing Style Remains Same – The total football brand of the Nigeria U17 coach which first came to the fore at the 2013 U17 World Youth Championship is still same till date. The team attack and defend in numbers. More important to note is the high amount of chance they create. More like relying on out scoring teams due to how they defend without any shape.
2. Addressing The Issue Of Lack Of Left Footers Coming Through – At the last World Cup in Russia, Nigeria went with three left footed players (Joel Obi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Elderson Echiejile) to the tournament but only one got to play ( Kelechi Iheanacho). Yesterday was the first time in a very long time that an U17 team from Nigeria will have as many as five left footed players in action at same time.
3. Goalkeeper Abdulrazaq Shuaib Might Yet Come Good – He was every inch the weak spot of the team but considering the fact he was drafted in as first choice ahead of the other goalkeepers who were deputy to regular first choice Ikedinachukwu Amah who failed the MRI Test. The game was the first real test for the 16 year old. As expected he was nervous all through the game but then it was in a stadium where almost every individual was rooting for the home team.
After yesterday’s baptism one will expect him to come good in the remaining games of the tournament to prove right the decision of the coaches to make him first choice.
4. Officiating Will Always Favour Host Nations In Africa – Probably in a bid to sustain interest in tournaments played on the continent, officiating has more often than not favour host nations. Yesterday almost all the 50-50 calls went against the young Nigerians and the officiating was made worse when the referee awarded a penalty to the host for a handball that happened outside the box few metres from where he was standing.
5. Nigeria Will Blow Teams Away If... Base on yesterday’s display it’s safe to say the Nigerian team are champions in waiting but for that to become a reality they have to bury their chances. They could easily have won the game by ten goals to four.