Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Nigeria champions of Africa for the sixth time

Nigeria broke own record by becoming the only African team to win the African Youth Championship title six times after defeating archrivals Cameroon  3-2 on Sunday in the final of the 2011 edition played at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto, South Africa.

In a bid to quickly put Nigeria on check like during their group game, Cameroon began the encounter with high motivation, grappling at each ball and trading short passes in the midfield, which yielded two quick corner kicks that were wasted, before the Flying Eagles got in the groove.

Nigeria had a major goal-scoring chance near the 10th minute but Asec Mimosas’ striker Olanreaju Kayode preferred laying back for better construction instead of a spontaneous Didier Drogba-like header into the post.

A free kick to Cameroon near Nigeria’s box area in the 23rd minute could have broken the deadlock, but it was again wasted like it had been the trend during the first half, where both teams, after getting over their agitations, still found it hard to overwhelm each other.

The junior Indomitable Lions always penetrated into the Nigerian half through the left flank, not forgetting to go via the right too, but Nigeria’s defending duo Emmanuel Anyanwu and Terna Suswan kept the house safe, but most times at the price of free kicks and corners, which went mostly in vain.

Kayode’s strike inside Cameroon box was clearly the best chance of the Flying Eagles to open the scoring at a time when Cameroon were evincing signs of fatigue near the end of first half.

A corner kick for Cameroon which was headed straight into the gloves of Nigeria’s ‘keeper Danjuma Paul set the mood after the interval, but the Flying Eagles soon dominated the exchanges that slipped off to Cameroon minutes later, as both sides resumed sloppy passes and poor finishing like before the break.

Things heated up near the 70th minute as both sides accelerated movements into each other’s camp, with Kayode opening the scoring after he blasted his finish in Cameroon box area. Five minutes later, leading Nigerian scorer Uche Nwofor doubled for the West Africans.

But Franck Ohandza and Edgar Salli would level the lead for Cameroon in the 82nd and 85th minute to squashed Nigeria’s rising hope of clinching a record sixth African Youth Championship title just minutes away. An extra time would have to decide.

New entrant Terry Envoh scored for Nigeria only two minutes into the extra time to put the Flying Eagles in a 3-2 lead, with Nigerian coach John Sam Obuh shouting up his boys to stand firm to protect the advantage, to avoid the second half blunder of losing two goals in less than four minutes.

Cameroon absolutely ran out of solutions even after the Nigerian side was depleted to 10 after the expulsion of Kayode when he was booked for the second time.

The game thus ended with no further development handing Nigeria their sixth title and breaking the Cameroonian jinx at last.

Nigeria are now winning the title for the sixth time after their victories in the editions of 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 2005.

SOURCE: African Soccer

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