Nigeria’s Eaglets Beat Mali To Retain World Cup

The concluding day of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at Chile 2015 saw Nigeria live up to their tag of pre-tournament favourites by overcoming a spirited Malian side 2-0 in the final, thereby retaining the crown they secured so impressively two years ago in the United Arab Emirates.

Belgium had earlier finished third, after seeing off Mexico in a pulsating opening game.

The showpiece match played out in the way many observers had predicted, partly because of the level of familiarity between the two teams, who both played starring roles at the 2015 CAF African U-17 Championship, where the Nigerians finished fourth and the Malians emerged victorious.

In Vina del Mar on Sunday, however, the Golden Eaglets’ attacking prowess eventually made the difference, as two goals in three second-half minutes sealed the destination of the trophy.

In doing so, the Nigerians claimed the fifth U-17 World Cup crown, following on from their previous successes at China 1985, Japan 1993, Korea Republic 2007 and UAE 2013. In addition, they finished as runners-up at Canada 1987, Trinidad and Tobago 2001 and Nigeria 2009.

Belgium, meanwhile, earned a place on the podium by defeating Mexico 3-2 in an entertaining preamble to the main event. Sprightly forward Dante Vanzeir was the man who propelled Les Diables Rouges to a best-ever finish at a FIFA tournament, setting up the opener and scoring their second and third goals. That decisive third strike came in stoppage time, when Belgium were down to ten men and the match appeared on the verge of a penalty shoot-out.

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