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Goal takes a look at the participation of the Golden Eaglets at all the Fifa U17 World Championships where they made the finals

Special
By Shina Oludare

As Nigeria get set to battle El Tri of Mexico in the 15th edition of the Fifa U17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, Goal examines all the cadet World Cups the Golden Eaglets have featured in its final.

CHINA 1985: GERMANY 0-2 NIGERIA

The Golden Eaglets conquered the world in the inaugural edition of the U17 World Cup staged in China.  Nigeria sent  shivers down the spines of opposing teams as they dominated every departments of the game. After brushing aside the likes of Italy, Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia in the first round, Hungary was next to face the fury of the Nduka Ugbade-captained team as they were trounced 3-1 in Shanghai. However, the Eaglets faced their toughest test of the championship when they faced West African foes, Guinea in the Semi finals which they scraped through 4-2 on penalties.

In the final match, the Germans had no hiding place as they bowed to a well organised Nigeria side that had Lucky Agbonsevafe who looked majestic in goal, Sani Adamu dictating the pace in the midfield and Joseph Babatunde wreacking havoc in the opponents’ defence.

Coach: Sebastian Broderick
Goals scored in the tournament: 10
Discovery(s): Nduka Ugbade, Jonathan Akpoborie

CANADA 1987: NIGERIA 1 (2-4) 1 SOVIET UNION

Phillip Osondu almost single-handedly gave Nigeria their second world cadet championship title but the USSR proved to be luckier team as they edged out Nigeria on penalties to be crowned world champions after a tension-soaked final.

Defending champions Nigeria began with a 1-1 draw against eventual champions Soviet Union before pushing aside South American champions Bolivia 3-2 in a ding-dong affair with Osondu – the golden boot winner getting a brace. Though they lost narrowly 1-0 to Mexico, the Eaglets made it to the last eight ahead of the Concacaf kings on superior goal difference. Nigeria overcame Australia in the quarter final before brushing European superpower - Italy for a place in their second successive final.

Playing intelligent football built around a 4-4-2 formation which gave them a free rein to some excellent individual talents, the Sebastian Broderick Eaglets bowed to Soviet Union in the final after scores stood 1-1 after extra time.

Coach: Sebastian Broderick
Goals scored in the tournament: 7
Discovery(s): Phillip Osondu, Jonathan Akpoborie

JAPAN 1993: GHANA 1-2 NIGERIA

After failing to get past Saudi Arabia in the quarter finals of Scotland 89 and missing out of the 1991 edition, Nigeria made their fourth appearance at the Fifa U17 World Cup count as they won their second title in third showing in the final.

Nigeria made their intention of a second title known in their very first game when they hammered Canada 8-0 before dismissing the Argentine football team by four unreplied goals. With qualification to the knock out stage already guaranteed, the Eaglets slammed the door softly against Australia with a 2-0 victory in Gifu City.

The Fanny Amun-tutored lads survived a scare from the hosts in the quarter finals before securing a 2-1 victory over Poland in Hiroshima. Ghana proved a hard nut to crack in the final as Daniel Addo, Sebastian Barnes and Michael Edusei unsettled the Mobil Oparaku led backline but it was the Nigerians that reigned supreme after 90 minutes of exciting football.

Coach: Fanny Amun
Goals scored in the tournament: 20
Discovery(s): Wilson Oruma, Kanu Nwankwo, Celestine Babayaro, Pascal Ojigwe

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 2001: FRANCE 3-0 NIGERIA

It was a failed expedition for Nigeria as they failed to lift the trophy despite showing lots of promises enroute the final.

Abdullahi Musa’s lads showed maturity beyond their years as they as they oscillated between a 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 and were able to rely on two extremely gifted individuals – Femi Opabunmi and Karimu Shuaibu.

Their biggest highlight in the competition was their 5-1 massacre of Australia in the quarter finals after an inspiring victory over the United States of America in their last group game in Scarborough.

The Golden Eaglets eventually surrendered the trophy to the French team in the final no thanks to an apathetic display.

Coach: Musa Abdullahi
Goals scored in the tournament: 14
Discovery(s): Femi Opabunmi, Akpan Bassey

SOUTH KOREA 2007: SPAIN 0 (0-3) 0 NIGERIA

Nigeria made it three out of three on Asian soil after previous successes in China and Japan respectively. Though the Eaglets made a slow start in the opening game against France, they bounced back with a commanding 4-1 annihilation of  Haiti before a 2-1 win over Japan in their last group outing.

Yakubu Alfa was the hero in Gwangyang as he came off the bench to secure victory for his side that was down by a lone goal to a hard-fighting Colombian side in the round of 16. It took the individual brilliance of skipper Haruna Lukman to push aside the Argentines before making life difficult for a Toni Kroos-led German side in the semi final.

In the final, Nigeria successfully converted their spot kicks with Dele Ajiboye stopping two of the Spain’s kick after match had ended scoreless.
 
Coach: Yemi Tella
Goals scored in the tournament: 16
Discovery(s): Haruna Lukman, Chrisantus Macauley, Rabiu Ibrahim

                           NIGERIA 2009: NIGERIA 0-1 SWITZERLAND

Defending Champions, Nigeria got stunned by the Swiss – first timers at the global fiesta in the final played in Abuja. Despite the vociferous fans that trooped into the Abuja National Stadium to cheer the Golden Eaglets, the John Obuh managed team failed to make home advantage count.

Not many expected Dany Ryser’s side to stop the hosts from lifting a record fourth title after the Nigerians came from three goals down to hold the Germans U17 to a 3-3 draw in Group A’s opening game. The team made a steady progress as the competition continued especially their comprehensive victory over hot-title favorites Spain in the semis.

Coach: John Obuh
Goals scored in the tournament: 15
Discovery(s): Ogenyi Onazi, Kenneth Omeruo

With all now set for the final on Friday evening, will the Nigeria U17 boys win a record fourth title in their seventh appearance in the final? Ninety minutes of football at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi will decide.

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