Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Nigeria zoom into U-17 World Cup final

Nigeria whipped Sweden 3-0 in Dubai on Tuesday to reach the final game of the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE.
Nigerian players celebrate after beating Sweden 3-0 during the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 semi-final match at Al Rashid Stadium ... on Wednesday.Nigerian players celebrate after beating Sweden 3-0 
during the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 semi-final match
 at Al Rashid Stadium ... on Wednesday.
| credits: AFP.

Sweden coach, Roland Larsson told the media shortly after the match that his team was outplayed. He then, in a subtle way, backed Nigeria for the trophy on Friday.
He said, “We lost to the champions.”
Nigeria took a 1-0 lead into the break through Taiwo Awoniyi at the 21st minute but had to wait late into the second half for the second goal. Samuel Okon and Chidera Ezeh scored the second and third goals respectively. And the third was scored within two minutes after the second as the Swedes struggled to regain their rhythm. It was a change of situation as Nigeria had rallied thrice to pull a 3-3 with the same team in their earlier Group F clash on October 22.
But it was not all smooth sailing for Nigeria even after hitting the opening goal. In the 76th minute, Sweden almost levelled after Gentrit Citaku supplied a cross that was met with precision and power by Carlos Strandberg only for Alampasu in goal for Nigeria to deny the substitute with a fine reflex save from point blank range.
From the resultant corner, Alampasu was called into action and his handling was exemplary again.
The resistance from Sweden eventually broke down in the 80th minute when Awoniyi fed Okon in the Sweden penalty area. The left-back showed great composure to curl home past a despairing Mohlin and effectively seal Nigeria’s place in the final.
Ezeh eventually made up for his missed chances earlier in the game with a simple third in the 81st minute as the three-time champions closed out the game at a canter.
The Nigerians will now meet defending champions, Mexico in the final on Friday in Abu Dhabi. Both sides met in the group stages with Nigeria running away with a 6-1 victory in Al Ain. Before Nigeria and Sweden stepped out, the Mexicans had shocked the Argentineans with the same 3-0 scoreline. Many fans of the game of football had backed Argentina to win given the unsteady start of the Mexicans in the tournament.
The semi final battles were indeed victory for Group F teams as Nigeria, Sweden and Mexico emerged from that group.
Meanwhile, Sweden will face Argentina for bronze in the curtain-raiser on Friday.

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