Eaglets Bang Les Leopards 1-0

World champions, Golden Eaglets of Nigeria opened their 2015 African
U-17 Championship’s account with a 1-0 defeat of Congo Democratic
Republic in Kinshasa on Saturday.
It was a match the Golden Eaglets would have won with a wide margin
but Victor Osimhen settled things in favour of the Nigerians in front
of disappointed home fans packed at the Tata Samuel Stadium.
In the midst of the enthusiastic local fans was Nigeria’s Ambassador
to the Congo Democratic Republic, Dr. Grant Ehiobuche, officials of
Organisation of Nigerians in Diaspora amongst others.
Les Leopards took the kick off exactly 3:30pm local time (3:30pm
Nigerian time) after centre referee 31-year-old Antoine Max Depadoux
Effa Essouma signalled the start.
Nigeria soon took over with Captain Kelechi Nwakali drilling the ball
through the middle to find Usman Abass on the left wing.
Abass evaded his marker and wasted no time with an inch-perfect cross for gangling Victor Osimhen to nod straight into the net for the first goal of the match in the 13th minute.
The goal woke up the home team and Nigeria was nearly punished in the
25th minute when Chris Mutomb capitalised on a miss kick by Lukman
Halilu but his well-struck shot was parry away by goalkeeper Akpan
Udoh.
It was Congo who nearly scored again in the 40th minute when
Rodrigue Masini Dimbua capitalized on a defensive mix-up in the heart
of Nigerian defence but his lively shot bounced off the post into
corner.
Two minutes later, Nigeria won a free kick on the periphery of
Congolese box but Nwakali’s well struck free kick also ricocheted off
the goal post.
Nigeria took the restart on resumption of second half but it was the
Congolese that showed more hunger as they were buoyed by the home
fans.
Thereafter, it was a ding dong affair with near misses on both sides as the game dragged to an end.
“I’m not happy despite the fact that we won this match,” Coach
Emmanuel Amuneke said afterwards.
“If we had taken our chances, the story would have been different because we had all the chances but we wasted so much.”
Amuneke further praised the Les Leopards for their fighting spirit
after conceding a goal, adding that his boys would have to up their
game in the reverse fixture in a fortnight.
“We have seen what the Congolese can do and that means more work for
us in the second leg but we are positive of going through ventually,”
he stated.


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