Abuja - Three-time champions Nigeria opened their 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign on Saturday with a 6-1 thumping of twice champions and title-holders Mexico in Al Ain City.
In the opening Group F match at the competition holding in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Golden Eaglets overcame a nervous start to go top of the group
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria now lead the group with three points and a +5 goals difference from one match, ahead of Sweden and Iraq.
The Mexicans were unable to take advantage of their opponents’ trepidation, as striker Ulises Jaimes had a chance to score with his head after only three minutes.
But the Nigerian defence deflected the ball wide of danger to get a respite until after about 30 minutes when the Eaglets settled into their rhythm.
After 33 minutes, the Eaglets followed on a counter-attack for Success Isaac to race in and round the goalkeeper, before pulling the ball back across goal.
Kelechi Iheanacho followed the play with a clever finish, hitting the ball high into the net over a pair of Mexican defenders.
Seven minutes later, the Eaglets scored again, after Isaac crossed from the left following a fast-break.
Iheanacho kept his cool to cut inside, showing great patience to drift past two defenders and slam into the side netting.
But the Eaglets’ enthusiasm got the better of them as they conceded a goal a minute later, after failing to clear their lines.
The ball fell kindly in the goal area for Jaimes who rounded his marker to score with a low shot to the corner.
However, Iheanacho claimed his hat-trick four minutes into the second-half, slamming home a low and hard shot at the near post after a flick-on from a long throw-in.
Chidiebere Nwakali made it 4-1 three minutes later with a shot from 25 yards out, while Isaac made it 5-1 on the hour mark when he raced on to a through-ball.
He waltzed past two tired and devastated Mexican defenders before firing inside the near post from 12 yards out.
Iheanacho cut in from the right side after 70 minutes to strike from a long way out to make it 6-1.
NAN reports that Nigeria will face debutants Sweden in their next match on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the same Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium venue.(NAN)