The Golden Eaglets on Saturday in Abuja struggled to a slim 1-0 win over the Junior Menas of Niger Republic in a 2017 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The match was played at the main bowl of the National Stadium before a sparse crowd. The Eaglets started on the front foot as Oluwatobiloba Alagbe opened scoring in the second minute after a good team move which caught the visitors napping. They continued to dominate the game and could have added another goal in the 26th minute, when Abubakar Abba fired inches wide a low shot from outside the penalty box.
The second half saw the visitors coming out to attack with renewed vigour, as they sought an equaliser. But all their efforts were well dealt with by a resolute Eaglets’ defence line. Coach Manu Garba made some changes in the 75th minute as he desperately looked for the second goal to put the game beyond the Junior Menas.
The changes nearly yielded result few minutes later, after a lovely cross from the right found Abba who however fluffed his lines with only the goalkeeper to beat. The visitors had chances of their own in the dying minutes of the game, but they could not convert as the Eaglets held on for a 1-0 victory. Garba told newsmen afterwards that the final score line was still a good result.
“Our expectation was to score a lot of goals today, but we created a lot of goal scoring chances which we were unable to convert and that is football for you,’’ he said. The coach however said the team would go back to the drawing board and correct all their errors before the return leg in Niamey.
“We have seen all the lapses, especially in the final third when it comes to scoring goals. “We will work on those lapses and by God’s grace we are going to beat them in Niger,’’ Garba said. The second leg match will be played in Niamey in a fortnight’s time.