Picture: AYC 2013 qualifier: Flying Eagles soar above TanzaniaAfrica, Headlines, Soccer, Sports Sunday, July 29th, 2012
Nigeria’s Under-20 team, the Flying Eagles, took a massive step towards reaching the third round qualifying series of the 2013 African Youth Championship after it defeated host, Tanzania 2–1 yesterday. Enugu Rangers’ striker, Alhaji Gero, netted a first-half brace, before the home team pulled a goal back on 51 minutes through Alhaji Said.
However, Tanzania Coach, Jakob Michelsen, said his team still have a chance in the return leg in a fortnight after their spirited performance after the interval. “We lost the first half, but won the second half and there are still two halves to be played,” said the young Danish coach, who was playing his first competitive game in charge of the Ngorogoro Heroes.
“We made two terrible mistakes at both ends of the first half and we paid for them, but I believe we still have something to play for going into the second game even against the African champions.” He added: “We played a good match and the players showed a lot of heart. With a bit of luck we should have got two penalties for hand ball, but all the same I’m proud of the boys.”
Nigeria Under-20 Coach, John Obuh also praised the second half showing of the Tanzanians. “It was a good game but the home team came out the stronger in the second half. They had the advantage of having already started the qualifiers before us (Tanzania won a first round qualifier versus Sudan) and they also played at home. “But we knew we had to win this match even against a very smart Tanzanian team, who at a time almost got my team to play their long ball tactic.
“All the same, we still have a second leg to play, but we expect to reach the next round of the competition.” Big striker, Gero got Nigeria off to a dream start after just two minutes when he dashed into the Tanzania goal area, before he fired a left-footed shot beyond goalkeeper Barwany Khomein Abubakar.
He will moments later be denied a second goal, before Simon Happygod Msuva broke through the Flying Eagles defence only for goalkeeper and skipper, Samuel Okani to make a timely save. The Ngorogoro Heroes responded positively as they used the long ball and their speed down the wings to pressure the Nigerian back four.
Despite the pressure, the Flying Eagles still carved chances. Aminu Umar’s header from inside the box on 19 minutes missed its mark and Chidi Osuchukwu effort from inside the box also came close. Happygod Msuva shot after half an hour missed narrowly for Tanzania and on 36 minutes, Okani did well to scramble a clever lob by Issa Rashid Issa for a corner. Gero eased the pressure two minutes from the break when he again found target after a good combination play involving Yahaya Adamu and Umar.
Tanzania came back into the game six minutes into the second half, when Alhaji Said headed home after he had earlier missed a similar opening in the 48th minute.
There were a number of close calls for both Tanzania and Nigeria, while in the dying moments of the encounter, a penalty appeal by goal-bound Gero was ignored by the Kenyan referee and substitute, Harrison Egbune failed to connect a loose ball inside the Tanzania vital area.
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