Later on Tuesday, Ecuador will trade tackles with Nigeria to determine who go top in Group B and qualify for the next round after both sides earned impressive victories in their first matches at the ongoing FIFA World U17 Championships in Brazil.
Nigeria secured a thrilling come-from-behind 4-2 win over Hungary on match day 1, after twice falling behind while Ecuador raced to an early two-goal lead against Australia before eventually seeing out a simple 2-1 triumph. The Golden Eaglets though represents a much tougher challenge than the gold and green.
This would be the first time ever that La Tri square up against the tournament’s most successful team as the South Americans are currently enjoying their fifth ever participation at the teen world cup, a number that indicates the amount of trophies the Africans boast of at this level.
However, this is not the first time the Golden Eaglets will take to the pitch against CONMEBOL representatives.
Kanu, Oruma and Anosike blasted four goals past Argentina on match day 2 at the Mizuho Rugby Stadium, Nagoya in Japan en route to lifting Nigeria’s second FIFA U-17 World Cup title in 1993.
Colombia were the unlucky opponents in the Round of 16 at the 12th edition of the championships in South Korea 2007 where second half goals from Isa and Alfa cancelled out a Trellez opener to hand Nigeria a sweet 2-1 win. Again the Eaglets, powered by Macaulay Chrisantus, roared to another title triumph.
A Kelechi Iheanacho-inspired team, one of the finest to have ever emerged from Africa, secured Nigeria’s fourth title in 2013 but not before sweeping past Uruguay (2-0) in the quarter finals.
However, it was in 2015 that Nigeria, reigning champions and in the hunt for a record fifth honours, truly flexed their muscles against South American foes.
Grouped alongside Croatia, USA and hosts, Chile, Nigeria quickly got down to business by dispatching the United States 2-0 courtesy of goals from Agor and Victor Osimhen. Chile were next and with a vociferous swathe of home fans behind them, were expected to provide the coach Emmanuel Amuneke’s boys with a stiffer challenge. The following 90 minutes though turned out to be a lesson in attacking football.
A stinging early goal by star man Samuel Chukwueze set the tone for a delightful day. The African side were remarkably quick out of the blocks, opening the scoring after 22 seconds. Victor Osimhen, fresh from his goal in the opening game against USA, sprinted down the Nigerian left and slid the ball across the Chilean penalty area for his dimunitive No8 to slam home with ease.
Chukwueze then played a big part in the second Nigeria goal, sprinting onto a long upfield clearance and tapping the ball past the sliding Juan Jose Soriano in the penalty area. The Chilean defender’s challenge brought down the tricky winger and Nwakali doubled his side’s lead from the spot.
The hosts continued to struggle in containing Chukwueze and it was no surprise when the talented youngster grabbed his second of the game thanks to sheer determination on the hour mark. He worked his way into the Chilean penalty area, performed a couple of stepovers and, after seeing an initial shot blocked, slammed a left-footed strike past Lopez.
Still Chile’s defence had no answer to the questions asked by the Nigerian No8, as yet again he burst into the home team’s penalty area and was felled again, this time by substitute Brian Leiva. For the second spot kick, it was Osimhen who stepped up, and he matched Nwakali’s first effort by firing home.
Substitute Funsho Bamgboye later hit the post before Chile’s consolation came courtesy of Marcelo Allende, who turned an effort past Akpan Udoh from Luciano Diaz’s cross to make the scoreboard read 4-1.
A short evening it was for Bamgboye as the young forward was dismissed late on for a rash challenge but Nigeria rallied and Osimhen grabbed his third of the tournament in two games to earn Nigeria a comprehensive 5-1 victory.
It still could have been more but Nwakali then missed his chance to double his own tally for the game from the penalty spot, after Chukwueze had been fouled in the penalty box for a third time.
It did not matter though, as holders Nigeria moved on to crush all comers and lift a record fifth world title.