Sunday, 27 October 2019

/ by Colin

Golden Eaglets lineup ahead of their opening game against Hungary

Heart and guts overcame an error-ridden performance by Nigeria, as the Golden Eaglets opened their FIFA Under 17 World Cup campaign with a come from behind win over Hungary on Saturday night.

Hungary poked the tiger within three minutes of the opening, their early pressure forcing Nigeria on the backfoot and Gyorgy Komaromi found himself in good position to draw first blood after just three minutes.

Captain Samson Tijani drew the Golden Eaglets level from the sport after Wisdom Ubani’s nifty footwork got him into the box only to be clipped. Samuel Major took advantage of further sloppy defending by Nigeria to restore Hungary’s advantage as they went into the break on top. 

But three late goals, two of those in the span of a minute, took Nigeria to victory.

Here are a few thoughts from the game

It was obvious that Hungary had watched tapes of the Nigeria team ahead of the game, and looked to exploit the weaknesses early. They peppered the fullback positions and scored both their goals from high, early pressure that the Nigerians found difficult to deal with.

Although they failed to keep up the momentum, bombarded as they were any Nigeria’s physical superiority and skill, their technical ability meant they did not have to overly exert themselves in a first half where they allowed the Eaglets to do all the running while they simply sat back and picked them off almost at will.

This is by no means the most talented squad Manu Garba has put together in his time as a youth coach, so there will be lot more work needed to help them along the way, That means studying film of the opposition ahead of and fixing his own team’s weaknesses.

One of those is dealing with the press. They did not handle it well against Hungary and need to work on it going forward.

To watch the first few minutes of the game, it looked like this iteration of Golden Eaglets were among the most disjointed ever.
Their passes continually went astray, touches looked heavy and the players appeared to be in a constant hurry to get nowhere fast. The calmness of the position made their haste even more glaring.
But the one thing the young men had more than enough of and then some, was heart. Even when they went down twice, their heads did not drop. They played with fire and the boisterousness of their youth. And even at the end, still had plenty of running in them as they overwhelmed Hungary by sheer force of character.
Heart and lungs are great traits to have, especially in the group phase. But they will need more than that if they are to go all the way.

There was a lot that went wrong with the Golden Eagles on the night, and that includes players who did not pull their weight.
And the less said about the walkabout defense th ebetter.
But none of that could be said about man of the match and captain Samson Tijani. In the midst of the blundering chaos, he was the one calming influence. Everything the Nigerians played went through him, and it was when he had the ball that the team looked even slightly composed.
His two goals were just reward for the effort he put in.
And then there was Akinwunmi Amoo. It is uncertain why Garba decided to start him from the bench. It could have been for tactical reasons. But when he came on, he showed that he belongs on the starting eleven.
It is hard to see him starting on the bench now after coming on and totally changing the complexion of the Nigeria team.

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  1. Indeed the team doesn't appear to be anywhere near the best Manu Garba has assemble but one thing you can take away from him is the fact that he does deliver results on most tournaments he has been at the helms of affairs. The team isn't solid enough to rate them at this stage but we expect better performance going g forward.
    I still have the finals and i watch it from time to time that team that conquered the world in UAE is by far the best team Nigeria has ever produced at the youth level if only the coach was aloud to continue building the team into the ladder and growing through the rank of Nigerian National team.
    But he had a chance but only this time a much difficult one it's now time to prove to the world that the first time was not a fluke. Good luck lads

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