…Senegal plays 1-1 with Israel stay at the bottom of the group.
Nigeria’s Flying Eagles on Wednesday at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza inflicted serious injuries on the Junior Azzuris pecking them lethally 2-0 in a Group B second round match. The Victory assures the Nigerians a possible placing in the 16 round matches.
Sensational Mavlon striker, Salim Lawal who was injured by the Dominic Republic defenders for tormenting their defence got a diagonal pass from Umeh Emanuel from the right flank and with a clinical flying header from a Flying Eagle got the first goal for Nigeria in the 61st minute before a crowd of 5,701 fans though VAR had denied Italy a penalty from a foul on M. Zanotti in the 37th minute. Nigeria pulled out Lawal to rest his legs after the devastating shock treatment he gave the Italians.
Journalists winked at each other remembering the 1985 U17 Kodak finals in China when Nigeria was leading Germany 2-0 in the finals and the Ref blew up the match in the 35th minute instead of 40 minutes for each half in that category then but Ref Piero Maza from Chile had given a long 8 minutes for injury time. It was in the park the bus system of Nigeria blocking their goal area that goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso played a long ball into the 18 yard box of the Italians and Jude Sunday collecting it sold a dummy to a defender and wham, the winning goal came 90+5 minute.
The stats were not worthy of reporting as the differentials between the two teams on each of the indices were highly negligible.
Thus Nigeria garnered 6 full points from two matches with 4-1 on goals chart to lead group D; Italy has 3 points with 3-4 on goals chart to place second; Brazil with a match pending for tonight has zero point with 2-3 goals on the chart while Dominican Republic sits at the bottom with zero points and 1-2 goals chart. .
Later tonight at 2200 hours Brazil will meet Debutant Dominic Republic where Nigeria is in the group D while at the same time Japan will meet Columbia in group C.
African U20 Champions, Senegal played a disappointing 1-1 draw with Israel in a group C encounter. B. Ndiaye had given an own goal to Israel in the 58th minute before D. Diop got an equalizer at the 80th minute.
Pending the outcome of the Japan versus Columbia match Senegal may be at the exit door. Columbia leads group C with 3 points and a 2-1 goals chart; Japan also has 3 points but with 1-0 goals chart; Israel has a point like Senegal but with 2-3 goals chat while Senegal has 1-2 goals chart.
Nigeria in their 13th Appearance has a long story being Runners-up at the World level twice in 1989 when Nigeria beat USA 2-1 in the Semis with Head Master, Mutiu Adepoju scoring the two goals in the 47th and 93rd minutes and Snow scored for America via penalty in the 52nd minute. Nigeria lost 0-2 to Portugal in the final. The second time Nigeria emerged Runners-up was in 2005 when the Flying Eagles trashed Morocco 3-0 in the semis. The finals were more memorable with Nigeria bowing to Argentina as football wizard, Leo Messi messed Nigeria up scoring two penalties 40th and 75th minute while Ogbuke scored for Nigeria in the 53rd minute. Messi, Mikel Obi and Taye Taiwo dominated the awards at the tournament.
Nigerian expert Coaches kept saying the match will be very tough giving an impression that Italy is not a team that the Flying Eagles could handle. However, the Italian Head Coach, 55 year old, Carmine Nunziate said, “Nigeria is a fast, strong and skillful side with a compact defence that doesn’t give space around the box”.
Italy sent out Nigeria from Group B at Chile 87 winning 2-0 on 18th October 1987 which aggravate Nigeria’s exit from the competition.
Nigeria won Bronze in Saudi Arabia 1985 after beating Brazil 2-0 in the semis and defeated Soviet Union 3-1 on Penalties after 0-0 at Full Time. Thrice Nigeria lost in the quarters while hosting in 1999 when Mali beat Nigeria 3-1 at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in Enugu. Spain won the trophy beating Japan 4-0 and Mali won the Bronze beating Uruguay 1-0. In 2007 in Canada on 15th July 2007Chile dismissed Nigeria 4-0 in the quarters after Extra Time. At Columbia in 2011 France beat Nigeria 3-2.
The Gli Azzurrini of Italy coached by Camine Nunziata is in the competition for the 8th time and won bronze only once as best result at South Korea in 2017 after playing goalless at Extra time won on 4-1 penalty kicks, The Ref was Cesar Ramos from Mexico. Italy had lost the semifinal to England 1-3. Nigerian Born Solanke scored a Brace for England in 66th and 88th minute and Lookman also scored 77th minute for England. Italy won Bronze before 10,749 fans.
Italy was 4th placed at Poland 2019 when she lost to Ecuador 0-1 AET on 14th June before 8,934 fans. The team had lost the semifinal to South Korea 0-1 in Poland. Other placing were quarterfinals in 1987 in Chile; at Netherlands in 2005 and in Egypt in 2009.
To conclude Group D, the Flying Eagles of Nigeria will on Saturday 27th May try the Samba Boys of Brazil for size at the Estadio Unico Diego Armando Maradona , La Plata while Italy will have to ensure no shocker from Dominic Republic Football team at the Stadium in Mendoza with both matches played simultaneously at 1900 hours before the group C matches is decided at 2200 hours.
Tomorrow the 2nd Group rounds shall be concluded. England will meet Uruguay at 1900 hours in Group E while Iraq will face Tunisia in the same group E at 2200 hours. France will square up with top performing Scorpions of Gambia at 1900 hours in Group F while South Korea will tackle Honduras at 2200 hours in the same group.
Eniola Olatunji reporting for Patmos Media Line.