by crossriverwatch admin
The Golden Eaglets were in sparkling form on Saturday as they whitewashed the Cross River State’s Under-18 team, 10-0, at the practice pitch of the U.J. Esuene Sports Stadium in Calabar.
Saturday’s victory returns the country’s U17 team to winning ways since they lost 5-4 on penalty shootout to Cote d’Ivoire in the final of the 10th African Under-17 Championship in Morocco last April.
In their earlier test match last month, the Eaglets’ new recruits held Taraba State’s Academy to a 1-1 draw during the screening exercise at the NFF/FIFA Goal Project Centre in Abuja.
But after almost a week of closed-camping of both the old guards and new discoveries in Calabar, the Nigerian Under-17 team were back to their impressive goal scoring element as the Coach Manu Garba boys went on rampage against the Cross River State side preparing for the maiden edition of National Youth Sports Festival to be hosted by Abuja in September.
New striking sensation, Theophilus Solomon, who was sourced from the Abuja Soccer Academy, was the cynosure of all eyes when he grabbed the only hat trick of the match after coming on as a second half substitute for Isaac Success. But it was Success, the CAN U-17 top scorer, that actually scored the second and the third goal of the match after midfielder, Ifeanyi Matthew, had opened the floodgate for the Golden Eaglets from a 20-yard volley.
There were also goals from former National Under-15 contingent led by Kelechi Iheanacho; Chidera Ezeh, and Jacob Njoku as well as the team’s captain, Musa Muhammed in what looked like a one-sided affair.
“Although it is early days, there are many positives from this match,” said coach Garba. “Our team is not on the same level with the opposition but you can see that there is a synergy between the old players and the new ones recently picked from the screening exercise.
“We would continue to work on the team and by the grace of God, we shall have a solid team for the World Cup,” he added.
Coach Paul Undeliku of the Cross River State’s Sports Council who was in charge of the losing side was gracious in defeat saying the Golden Eaglets were the better side.
“I’m highly impressed with the performance of the Golden Eaglets and it was apparent that they were the better side today,” noted Undeliku who won the Football’s Silver medal for Cross River at the last National Sports Festival in Lagos.
“I think they even played better than the team we saw in Morocco but by and large, we would definitely give a better account if we have the opportunity for a rematch because I put together this team at a very short notice.”
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