Golden Eaglets of Nigeria Came, Saw, But Could Not Conquer at Canada in 1987
Canada is a beautiful country located in North America consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Canada has a population of approximately 33 million people and has her capital in Ottawa. This beautiful country played host to the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria when the FIFA U-16 tournament was declared opened on the 12th of July 1987. The tournament took place in five major cities: Montreal, Saint John (N.B.), St. John’s (N.F.) and Toronto.
The Golden Eaglets landed in Canada brimming with so much confidence, as defending champions of the FIFA U-16 World Cup. With a team made mostly of They played a 1-1 draw with Soviet Union in their first match with Albert Eke scoring the decisive equalizer in the 79th minute to share the points, before brushing aside a resilient Bolivian side 3-2 in their second match with mercurial midfielder Philip Osundo scoring a hat-trick (24th minute, 66th minute and 77th minute). Their confidence was dealt a great blow with a 1-0 defeat suffered against Mexico. They however qualified for the quarter-final as runner-up despite the loss to Mexico.
In the quarter-finals, they came up against Australia, and they won 1-0 thanks to a second half goal coming from Christopher Nwosu to set up an exciting semi final clash with Italy. The semi final clash with Italy ended in similar fashion 1-0, with the solitary goal coming once again from Christopher Nwosu. The victory greatly motivated the Golden Eaglets were within grasp of a second FIFA U-17 World Cup trophy.
The dream was however distorted by a determined Soviet Union, who held the Golden Eaglets to a 1-1 draw at regulation time. The Russian had taken a 6th minute lead via Yuri Nikiforov before Philip Osondu equalized for Nigeria in the 11th minute. The game had to be decided via penalties, and it was the Soviet Union that carried the day with a 4-2 triumph, after the Nigerians missed two of their spot kicks.
This was a tournament that brought out the best in a certain Philip Osondu. The mercurial midfielder produced some extraordinary display throughout the tournament, that the World Football governing body-FIFA, gave him the «Adidas Golden Ball Award» Peter Ogaba, Fatai Atere, Lemmy Issa and Christopher Nwosu all shone like a million stars at the competition, despite losing to the USSR in the final. They were tipped as the foundation for the future Super Eagles team, but they never made it beyond the junior cadre. The team was led to the tournament by experienced coach Sebastian Broderick Imasuen.
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