Akpabuyo United, current Cross River State’s League Champions, were beaten 1-0 by Nigeria’s Under-17 team, Golden Eaglets on Saturday at the Abraham Ordia Stadium in Calabar courtesy of a first half goal by Striker Samuel Chukwueze.
The solitary goal recorded in the 36th minute was Chukwueze’s eighth and Golden Eaglets’ 81st after 29 matches of playing domestic friendly and international matches.
Coach Emmanuel Amuneke yet again started with an experimental team and the lads responded well by containing their supposedly strong opposition right from the outset as they girded their loins ahead of their forthcoming second leg African U-17 Championship showdown against Gabon. Left-sided defender, Usman Abass did a Yeoman’s job despite playing in an unfamiliar central defensive position along with Douglas Uzama.
Up front, Ebere Osinachi playing in the top striking role instead of injured Victor Osimhen who would not be available after seeing red in Libreville, showed tenacity as he combined beautifully with Chukwueze.
But it was midfielder; Kingsley Michael that would be the architect of the only goal of the match, when he floated an inch-perfect pass above the defense of Akpabuyo United and Chukwueze reacted sharply to slot the ball beyond the reach of on-rushing goalkeeper Asam Umuah Asam.
Both sides demonstrated huge enthusiasm throughout the remainder of the encounter officiated by centre referee Emmanuel Egon and duly assisted by Justice Ukpor and Emmanuel Ekawu.
Akpabuyo United nearly got the equalizer in the 89th minute but a well-directed free kick by Bassey Okon just outside the Golden Eaglets’ goal area ,bounced off the post after beating the wall as well as goalkeeper Akpan Udoh.
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