The Golden Eaglets are on the brink of winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup for a record fourth time, after thrashing Sweden 3-0 in last night’s semifinal match held at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai.
World football legend Diego Maradona watched the match here and was impressed with the play based on the grin on his face.
Coach Manu Garba, a good tactician by all standards, had told reporters on the eve of the match that his boys were going to score goals aplenty against the Scandinavians and his troops scored three goals without conceding any against the hapless Swedes, who had entered the match with high hopes of upsetting the Africans.
Like he did in the games against Uruguay and Iran, striker Taiwo Awoniyi got the opener in the 21st minute, when he collected a master-class pass from Kelechi Iheanacho before beating his marker before sliding the ball beyond goalkeeper Sixten Mohlin. It was a breath-taking goal, which got the packed Nigerian fans jubilating.
Awoniyi, who was scoring his fourth goal in this tournament, ran to injured striker Success Isaac to celebrate the goal, which had come after a cagey start to the match.
The Eaglets continued to press forward for the second but were restricted to long-range shots by their Swedish foes.
Having scored 20 goals in five matches, the Eaglets, parading the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Musa Mohamed, Dele Alampasu, Samuel Okon, captain Musa Mohamed, Aliyu Abubakar, Abdulkadir Alfa, Musa Yahaya, Chidebere Nwakali, Chidera Ezeh and Zaharadden Bello controlled the game with panache and it was evident that the Swedes were running out of options.
In the second half, the Eaglets stepped up their gear and deservedly got their second of the night through left-full back Samuel Okon in the 80th minute. It silenced the Swedes, who hoped to use counter-attack to equalize.
They tried to counter-attack minutes after the goal but the Eaglets drove in the final nail into their coffin minutes later through Ezeh to send the Eaglets into the final, where they play Mexico on Friday.
It is a rematch as the Eaglets had beaten the Mexicans 6-1 in their Group F opener, September 19.