Nigeria and Tanzania on Sunday made history at the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations, as both sides battled out a nine-goal thriller that has become the competition’s highest scoring game in history.
Sunday afternoon’s match becomes the the highest scoring game in U17 AFCON history, surpassing Seychelles vs Mali, Cameroon vs Ethiopia and Nigeria vs Eritrea, which all had eight goals each in 2001, 2003 and 2007 respectively.
In Sunday’s record-breaking game, Nigeria edged the 13th U17 AFCON opening match 5-4 in Dar-es-Salaam, as hosts Tanzania collapsed in the latter part of the match against the five –time world champions.
The Eaglets threw away several opportunities in a match they had in their hands but almost threw away as a result of sluggish marking, carelessness at the rear and slack finishing.
They could have been one goal up as early as 20 seconds into the game but a poor shot by biggest culprit Olakunle Olusegun with the goal gaping was easily thwarted by goalkeeper Yahya Mwinyi.
There was more wastage by Wisdom Ubani and Ayobami Amoo, before Olatomi Olaniyan put Nigeria in front in the 21st minute by booting into the net from a rebound after an initial effort stopped by Mwinyi.
Tanzania replied straight off, as Edmund John hit past a badly positioned goalkeeper, Suleman Shaibu, who showed little confidence all day long but, eight minutes later, Nigeria regained their lead after Ubani peeled a defender and placed the ball to the far side of Mwinyi.
It was 3-1 seven minutes later, as impressive Amoo skilfully rounding Mwinyi from a pass following a free kick that was initially blocked.
Many thought the Eaglets would start the second period from where they left off in the first, but were shocked to see Manu Garba’s wards resort to defending, only for them to collapse in an unimaginable way.
They were soon behind after conceding three goals in seven minutes against a side charged by crowd support that encouraged them to launch onslaught after onslaught.
Kelvin John scored a beauty from 25 yards out, and Shaibu had no answer to his strike in the 52nd minute, but two penalties followed in very fast succession, scored by Morice Abraham and Edmund John.
In the 65th minute, Olusegun headed straight at Mwinyi, but Ubani equalized with a spectacular free kick in the 72nd minute.
Six minutes later, Ibraheem Jabaar regained Nigeria’s lead with a shot from the edge of the box that Mwinyi’s flailing hands could not reach.
It took the Eaglets top of Group A ahead of Angola, who beat Uganda 1-0 same day, and will on Wednesday face Nigeria at the same venue while The Serengeti Boys will be up against The Cadet Cranes.
Victory on Wednesday will take the Eaglets to the semi finals, and a slot at the FIFA U17 World Cup finals taking place in Brazil later this year.