By Akanimo Kufre
The Nigerian U20 contingent Sunday defeated Guinea Bissau by a lone goal before a capacity crowd at Calabar Stadium.
The Nigerian Flying Eagles at UJ Esuene Stadium lost several scoring chances in early minutes of the first half.
Coach Paul Aigbogun boys mounted much pressure on the visitors which resulted in first corner kick within 4th minutes of play. Wasiu Alalade, Abubakar Ibrahim and Adamu Alhassan had ample chance to net in goals but either shot wide or too weak to threaten Guinea Bissau goal keeper Edimar Vieria.
The Nigerian side controlled most of the first half with the team captain Ikouwem neutralizing few attempts the Guinea Bissau U20 brought in through the right flank. The Man of match, Ikouwem later described Pereira Alberto as dangerous opponent the needed to be stopped early enough to avoid the menace of previous match.
The Guinea Bissau side with 6 of their eleven players being international youngsters became a tough nut for all domestic players apart from goal keeper David Udoh who plays in Israel.
As 2nd half resume the visitors appeared to have interpreted Nigerian style of attack as fewer attempts were made at their goal.
Again the African giants dominance yielded when 11 shirt Wasiu was brought down within the box at 56th minute of play.
Itwas quite easy for Togolese centre referee, Kouassi Attiogbe to call for penalty kick in favour of Nigeria.
It was the daring Adamu Alhassan who step in to deliver the moment all Nigerians were waiting for. He made a brilliant score to keep Flying Eagles ahead.
To consolidate on the gains homeboy Effiom Maxwell was substituted by Aniekeme Okon ‘Perrere’. Another Nigeria substitute Jerome Adams had couple of narrow miss that would have increased Nigerian tally.
For Coach Paul Aigbogun, the match result was worth being happy with. ‘I thank God for the win, am happy with the boys.
For Emiliano Te, former Portuguese club and Atletico Madrid player, the poor playing pitch at Calabar Stadium deny him opportunity to shock Nigerians with defeat.
Speaking through an interpreter Te express complete surprise with poor quality of playing pitch respectful African football giant offered. “The field made the ball rumble so made it difficult for my players therefore affected the quality of play. Yes Nigerian Flying Eagles had advantage of the field and are more physical. But I would admit that the Nigerian boys played better football in 1st leg at Guinea Bissau than their play in Calabar possibly because of bad pitch. Nigeria is African champions and the pitch should be better. I don’t have problem with the officiating, but as biggest and strongest country in African football Nigeria should have better playing field.”
The Sports commissioner, Asu Okang said he was pleased with turn out of fans who cheered the youthful Eagles to victory.
Other dignitaries who watched the Flying Eagles were Gov Ben Ayade, Gov Okezie lkpasu, Sampson Siasia, Hon Orok Duke with other members of Cross River State exco.
The SA on Sports to Cross River State governor, Hon Effiom Effiwat confirm to our reporter that much publicity was done to ensure large turn out of fans. “Cross River State is known for its hospitality and warmth , Calabar seems to exude some good luck charm to the national team. We increased the match publicity throughout all radio station and media organization in and around the state. We are going to consolidate on the gains of this success of hosting Flying Eagles by improving on the stadium facilities. We have about five clubs playing on the same pitch every week.”
Hon Effiom was much around the team to cater to their welfare till departure from Tinapa Lake Side Hotel.