By Tony Ubani in Morocco
Lawal Raheem Adewole is not a very big name among football fans in Nigeria. On the last day of group A matches in the on-going CAF 2012 London Olympic qualifier the U-23 starlet suddenly shot himself to fame with a very rare hat-trick in Nigeria’s match against Algeria.
Although the Eagles triumphed over their Algerian counterparts, Lawal said he remained a sad man.
“I feel high that I scored a hat-trick but at the same sad that we are out and did not qualify for the Olympics”, the lad who also won the man of the match award said.
The victory and the resilience of the team sparked off comments on why it took them this late to rise up to the occasion. And as Nigerians mourn another team that bit the dust to add to the misery of Nothing For Football(NFF) next year, the players would be hard-hit as they have missed the opportunity of showcasing their skills to the world and perhaps gain better deals from clubs all over the world during the Olympics. For now, Nigerian football has gone down the valley.
Their last group match which ended 4-1 in Nigeria’s favour was played at the Meraketch stadium. The hero of the game, Lawal Raheem Adewole scored a hat-trick before Uchechi Chima Daniel added to the misery of the north Africans.
The junior Desert Warriors came with the intention of roasting the whipping boys of Group A, Nigeria who lost two of their previous matches to Morocco and Senegal.
Algeria needed a win to qualify alongside host Morocco who qualified after winning two matches and they rattled the Nigerians through Bounedjah Baghdad in the 42nd minute.
The Nigerian ego was deflated by that goal but the Olympic Eagles dominated play, and as usual finished poorly in front of goal. But once danger-man Abeid Mehdi got the marching orders(red) for a second yellow, the Nigerians bared their fangs and pounced on the hapless Algerians.