Nigeria U17 0-1 Cote D’ivoire U17 Report: Niangbo’s goal stuns Golden Eaglets
The Golden Eaglets' 28-match unbeaten run was ended on Wednesday by Cote d'Ivoire and will have to beat Congo on Saturday
By Shina Oludare
The wings of high flying Golden Eaglets of Nigeria were clipped by the Baby Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire on Wednesday evening. A 90th minute strike from substitute Dogbole Niangbo was all the Ivorians needed to pip the Garba Manu-coached side in a match played at the Grand Stade de Marrakech, Morocco.
Coming into this encounter, the Nigerians were favorites to tame the Baby Elephants thanks to their 6-1 spanking of their Ghanaian opponents on Sunday, but it was the Ivorians that stole the show with just a few minutes to the end of the game.
Nigeria dominated proceedings right from the blast of Samuel Chirindza’s whistle as they held sway in the midfield with their opponents chasing shadows. Knowing fully well that an attempt to mark the Eaglets could spell doom for them like it happened against the Black Starlets, Ibrahim Kamara’s side decided to adopt a massive defensive approach which prevented the two-time African kings from wreaking havoc.
The Ivoriens had the chance to take the lead as early as the fifth minute, but saw their corner kick well saved by the Nigerian goalkeeper. A little while later, Alhassan was unable to put the Ivorians ahead after being left unmarked by the Golden Eaglets defenders.
Garba Manu’s side however had their first chance at goal in the 10th minute via a corner kick but could not score. Yahaya had the chance to put his side ahead from a free kick after Bernard Bulbwa was forcefully brought down at the edge of the Baby Elephants’ goal area.
Four-goal hero in the opening match against Ghana, Isaac Success was constantly put to check as he was not given any breathing space to operate. The Eaglets failed to get the much needed advantage over their opponents who were rock solid in defence and disciplined in the midfield.
Paul Bakayoko was the tormentor in chief of the Nigerian backline as he occasionally caused anxious moments whenever he found his way in the Nigerian defence line. Keita and Alhassan also looked dangerous but their incursions were curtailed.
In the second half, the Golden Eaglets raised the stakes but the Ivoriens' defence soaked all the pressure. Even at the introduction of Kelechi Iheanacho, no goals could be scored as Nigeria gave it their best shot.
When it looked like the game was heading for a scoreless draw, Dogbole Niangbo gave his team the much awaited goal after profiting from a defensive mistake from the Nigerians. Alhasasan flipped a ball into the box which Adewale Adeyinka in goal for the Eaglets failed to handle giving Kouassi Begbin the chance to square the ball to Niangbo who tapped into an empty net.
The win takes Cote d’ivoire to the summit of Group B with four points while Nigeria will have to wait to qualify for the semi-final when they tackle the junior Red Devils of Congo on Saturday.