Golden Eaglets retain their crown

(watch match highlights above)

Nigeria became only the second side to retain the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a 2-0 win against Mali in Vina Del Mar. Victor Osimhen stole the show once again thanks to his record-breaking tenth goal of the tournament, with Funsho Bamgboye adding a second moments later. Samuel Diarra had saved an early Osinachi Ebere penalty as the Malians played their part in an entertaining finale to Chile 2015.

The penalty came as both sides were just finding their rhythm in the opening exchanges, Chato the culprit with a handball. Ebere saw his low effort saved brilliantly by Diarra, the No17’s follow up header hit the bar before a third bite of the cherry was blocked by the Malian defence.

Both sides had chances in a tense opening period, with Golden Eaglets skipper Kelechi Nwakali hitting just wide and Boubacar Traore seeing his glancing header tipped over by Akpan Udoh.

The second half saw the game burst into life, with Emmanuel Amuneke’s words clearly working their magic on the Nigerian youngsters. Osimhen shrugged off the challenge of Mamadou Fofana before hitting a wonderful dipping half volley towards goal, which Diarra spectacularly saved. Udochukwu Anumudu then smashed a thunderous effort at goal, which rebounded back off the crossbar and was cleared away.

Mali did not heed those warnings. Good approach play by substitute Chinedu Madueke saw him tee up Osimhen for his record-breaking goal, seeing him surpass the nine goals scored by Florent Sinama Pongolle in 2001 and Souleymane Coulibaly ten years later.

The holders doubled their advantage mere minutes later, with Bamgboye bursting down the Nigerian left before smashing a powerful effort at goal, Diarra standing little chance.

Despite a couple of late chances for Mali, from corner kicks, Nigeria retained possession for large spells and saw the game out to retain their crown. The jubilant scenes on the final whistle in Vina Del Mar will surely live long in the memories of these Nigerian heroes of the present, some of whom may just become the stars of the future.

Mali 0-2 Nigeria

Play-off for third place
Belgium 3-2 Mexico

Goal of the day
Mali 0-1 Nigeria, Victor Osimhen (56)
With the score locked at 0-0, midfielder Chinedu Madueke drove down the right and from just inside the box sent in a low cross for forward Victor Osimhen, who was lurking unmarked in the middle. The Nigerian No9, as he has done throughout the competition, did not hesitate for a second and smashed the ball first-time past adidas Golden Glove winner Samuel Diarra to set Nigeria on their way to glory.

Memorable moments
Individual brilliance
Although they retained the U-17 World Cup as a team, Nigeria were also well represented among the individual awards. Their captain, Kelechi Nwakali, picked up the adidas Golden Ball and the adidas Bronze Boot, while ace marksman Victor Osimhen pocketed the adidas Golden Boot and adidas Silver Ball.

Reputable runners-up
Mali’s impressive crop of players achieved much more than a historic runners-up spot at a FIFA event. Not only did they receive the acclaim of the Chilean fans, who supported them during the match and gave them a standing ovation after the final whistle, but their efforts were also recognised by the Nigerian players, who formed a guard of honour when their defeated opponents went up to collect their runners-up medals. In addition, Samuel Diarra won the adidas Golden Glove award and attacker Aly Malle earned the adidas Bronze Ball.

Bouncing back
Dante Vanzeir missed out on the UEFA European U-17 Championship with a serious knee injury, and had not managed to notch a goal at Chile 2015 until today. The skilful forward put all that behind him in style against Mexico, producing an excellent assist and two fine goals that ensured Belgium of third place in a FIFA tournament for the first time. Cue exuberant celebrations from the Belgian players, which involved launching coach Bob Browaeys skywards.

Song of sorrow
During the first half of the play-off for third place, around 100 Mexican supporters, situated behind the goal that El Tri were attacking, delighted the rest of the fans present at the Estadio Sausalito with an a cappella version of the popular Mexican song, Cielito lindo. The applause the boisterous group received was highly deserved, as were the proud cheers they themselves gave their young heroes at the end of the match, despite the loss to Belgium.

The stat
10 – The number of goals scored by Victor Osimhen for the Golden Eaglets at Chile 2015, a tournament tally that sends the talented Nigerian to the top of the all-time top scorer list. The lethal striker, who found the net in all seven of his nation’s encounters in South America, now moves one ahead of the previous record of 9, jointly held by Ivoirian Souleymane Coulibaly (2011) and Frenchman Florent Sinama Pongolle (2001)

The words
“We have worked very hard for this success and we hope to continue. The players will go home now but their journey is not over yet. I have football in my blood, as a player and as a coach. This is what I want to pass to my players.”
Emmanuel Amuneke, Nigeria coach


Culled by RCCG MPS editorial team from FiFa’s u17 official website and here

View official match report here


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