Gallant Golden Eaglets enter Guinness Book of Records

By Frederick Mordi

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Exactly 30 years after Nigeria first won the FIFA junior World Cup in China, the ‘giant of Africa’ entered the Guinness Book of Records, by becoming the only nation in the world that has won the FIFA U-17 World Cup, five times, after defeating Mali 2-0, this morning.

The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria beat the hard-fighting fellow West Africans in the final match of the tournament in Chile, to lift the trophy. Nigeria also became the second side to retain the trophy that it had won in 2013.

Victor Osimhen, the revelation of the tournament, stole the show once again with his record-breaking 10th goal, shattering the previous record of nine goals. Funsho Bamgboye, a fellow teammate, added a second. Samuel Diarra, the Malian goalkeeper, had saved an early Osinachi Ebere penalty as the Malians played their part in a pulsating finale. The Malians are not going back to Africa, empty-handed, as Diarra won the best goalkeeper of the tournament award.

The Golden Eaglets had, in the run-up, defeated USA 2-0, before coasting to victory with a crushing 5-1 win over Chile in their second group phase match. The last group game against Croatia, ended 1-2, in favour of Croatia. The team went on to beat Australia 6-0 in the second round and defeated Brazil 3-0 in the quarter final, before stopping the determined Mexicans 4-2 in the semi-final.

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With four wins (1985, 1993, 2007 and 2013), Nigeria has the highest record of triumphs in the global cadet championship, followed by Brazil with three. FIFA is said to be studying the tactics of Golden Eaglet’s Coach Emmanuel Amuneke, an ex-international, who led the youthful team to victory. Amuneke himself, scored the winning goal for the senior national team, the Super Eagles, to lift the African Cup of Nations in 1994, and also netted the deciding goal to clinch Gold in football at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

Interestingly, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who was then a military Head of State, received the junior World Cup crown, in 1985. By sheer coincidence, he will again receive the trophy, this time as a democratically elected President, when the boys return from Chile. Before the match, Buhari had called the boys to give them pep talk.

Nigerians are celebrating.

 

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