U17 WC Nigeria 3 Vs Ecuador 2 - FT Magnificent Ibrahim Said's Hat-trick Downs Ecuador
By Iwedi Ojinmah 19 days ago
Nigeria have advanced to the Round of 16 of the 2019 Fifa U17 World Cup after beating Ecuador 3-2.
After a 4-2 comeback win over Hungary in their opening fixture, Manu Garba's boys showed resilience again to see off the South Americans on Tuesday.
Ibrahim Said was the hero for Nigeria after scoring all the three goals to seal maximum points for the team in style.
Said started the goal feast at Estadio Olimpico with his opening goal in the fifth minute. The Golden Eaglets' lead was short-lived five minutes later as goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu turned the ball into the back of his own net.
Adrian Mejia initially fired a shot that hit the woodwork before Jinadu tucked the ball in with his body.
Just some moments after the half hour-mark, Nigeria were forced to make an early substitution with Akinkunmi Amoo replacing Wisdom Ubani who struggled to adapt in the game.
Ecuador started the second 45 minutes on the stronger foot and had a penalty in their favour after Charles Etim was found guilty of a rash challenge on John Mercado in the 55th minute.
Johan Mina stepped forward and converted the resulting kick to give Ecuador a 2-1 lead. The goal changed the game's momentum with Ibraheem Jabaar coming on for Monsuru Opeyemi to fuel Nigeria's push for an equaliser.
The final 10 minutes turned out to be the decisive moments as both sides created several chances but Manu Garba's side came out victorious.
Immediately the referee waved off Nigeria's call for a penalty after a brief wait for the VAR, Mina nearly increased the margin for Ecuador but his effort struck the upright in the 82nd minute.
Two minutes later, Said got the equaliser for the Golden Eaglets and later completed his hat-trick just at the death of the game after benefitting from Amoo's assist.
The victory extended Nigeria's dominance at the summit of Group B to six points after two matches. They will be looking to end their group campaign on a high when they battle Australia on Friday.
Date: Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
Time: 9: PM
Venue: Estádio Olímpico Pedro Ludovico
Surface: Natural Grass
TV: BON and SuperSport
Many Nigerian's don't know an extra bond exists between many Ecuadorian players at this FIFA U-17 World Cup that extends beyond sharing the privilege of donning their country’s colours.
Eight who saw the pitch during the team's Brazil 2019 debut are also rising through the ranks at Independiente del Valle. Located in the Quito suburb of Sangolqui, Los Negriazules have a penchant for surprising South American powerhouses; they outgunned Corinthians to reach the Copa Sudamerica final this year and were shock Copa Libertadores finalists three years ago.
Meanwhile La Tricolor flew off the starting blocks at Goiania's Estadio Olimpico Saturday night, speeding out to a 2-0 lead less than ten minutes into the match. From there it took a cohesive defensive effort to put away the feisty Joeys, who found their footing as the match wore on and caused late trouble with a 90th-minute goal.
They faced as difficult a path to World Cup qualification as any team during the South American U-17 Championship. Staring down elimination, Ecuador rung up four second-half goals on continental holders Argentina to book passage to Brazil.
This is Ecuador's fifth appearance at a global final in this category. Their best performances are a pair of trips to the quarter-finals: on home soil in 1995 and 20 years later in Chile.
The two stars Nigeria needs to keep an eye on are first, Goalkeeper Joan Lopez (above). He is the calming force on the team and if Nigeria can ruffle the Captain, half their job is done. The second is Barcelona target Foward Johan Mina (below) who though he didn't score against Australia, was the top scorer in qualifying with six goals and is slippery as a banana peel.
Related: 2021 Afcon Qualifier : Lesotho 1 Vs Nigeria 2 (Second Half)
But as we know, the Nigerian team they will be facing is no joke.
It is a squad loaded with stars and talent. Not only does it have a Little Messi (Amoo below) who was the game changer against Hungary, and a Little Ronaldo (Olawale) but skipper Tijani is now being called Little Chairman
It is a comparison to one of the all-time Nigerian greats Christian Chukwu and is a huge compliment to the lanky Eaglet who literally runs the Nigerian show.
To make matters worse for the South Americans, the Nigerians seem to have found their groove as they tore Hungary apart in the last 20 mins of their encounter. Unlike the Ecuadorians who scored early in their 2:1 win over Australia, the Nigerians left it till late but still managed to pull the Europeans apart like a soft loaf of bread.
Little Ronaldo explained what happened:
"During the half-time break, coach Manu [Garba] told us to keep a positive mindset and we never gave up. That was what we did and got three goals in the second half.
"Hungary are a good team but they got tired towards the end of the game and it was more difficult for them to control our speed.
"Against Ecuador, we hope to be at our best again so that we can qualify for the knockout stage before taking on Australia.
Awareness Sports Prediction: Nigeria 3 Ecuador 1