By Brent Latham Kano, Nigeria30 October 2009
Nigeria's national youth football (soccer) team has represented the host nation well thus far in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, with two good performances to start the tournament.
With a win over Honduras in its second match of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, Nigeria's young footballers have virtually assured their spot in the elimination rounds of this year's youth World Cup, being played across Nigeria.The Golden Eaglets, as the team comprised of players seventeen and younger is known here, edged the Central Americans, 1-0, on a second half goal by Abdul Ajagun. While the team has players with great individual skill, Nigerian Coach John Obuh said they also play well as a unit. "We did play together. You can have individual players that can play together. We still have those, but I think we played together in the second half," he said,xz
In the victory, Nigeria put in a strong second-half performance for the second straight match. In their opening game, the Golden Eaglets fell behind by three to European champions Germany, only to rally back with three second half goals to salvage a vital tie. Nigeria is now likely to advance out of a very difficult group that, aside from Germany and Honduras, also includes perennial football power Argentina.
The hosts face the Argentinians, who have won both of their matches so far, Saturday night in Bauchi, in a game that will decide which team wins the group.The Nigerians may not be anxious to move on from Abuja, where large crowds have gotten behind them at the national stadium. Over 42 thousand spectators were on hand for the match with Honduras. The Honduran coach, Eugenio Umanzor, said the boisterous partisan crowd was a factor in the game, but that the play on the field was the key.
The coach said his players had seldom experienced an environment like the one they faced in Abuja. He added that the Nigerian side looked ready to defend the title they won in the previous edition of the tournament, played in 2007 in South Korea.The Under-17 World Cup is played once every two years. This year's champion will be crowned on November 15th at the National Stadium in Abuja.