Nigeria’s youth national team, Flying Eagles coach, Paul Aigbogun has declared that he and his players will not relax, after mauling Mauritania in their last match of the qualifiers for next year’s African U-20 Nations Cup.
Though Aigbogun’s squad appeared to have expressed tremendous form in Saturday’s victory at Agege Stadium, Lagos, the England-trained gaffer stressed that the real work now begins, as he wants to build a cup-winning squad for the U-20 AFCON next year.
Aigbogun stated as much after the Flying Eagles hammered their counterparts to qualify on 6-1 aggregate for the 2019 continental youth championship to be staged in Niger Republic.
Having missed the 2017 finals in Zambia following a home defeat to Sudan also in Lagos after winning in Khartoum, Aigbogun’s boys were in no mood for small measures and showed their demeanour right from kick-off, throwing everything at an equally determined Mauritanians, on a rain drenched astro-turf at The Temple of Soccer.
There were early doubts the match would go ahead due to torrential downpour, but workmen somewhat made the pitch playable and the match commissioner, Sallieu Kamara from Sierra Leone gave the go –ahead for the contest.
Crunchy tackles and flying bodies were the order from kick-off as both teams showed gusto, but Wasiu Alalade broke the visitors’ resistance in the 12th minute with a scorching shot right inside the box that goalkeeper Amadou Fall could do nothing to stop.
Both teams fought a fierce and furious contest throughout, but at no time was there any doubt about Nigeria’s superiority, and Abubakar Ibrahim lashed a rising shot from the left that missed narrowly in the 20th minute.
Alalade would miss from a goalmouth tussle four minutes later, but Nazifi Yahaya would make no such mistake when a long punt from the Eagles’ defence screened Boidiya Abdou and Mahmoud Abdallah, and left him with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Just before half time, Captain Ikouwem Utin nearly made it three, but his fierce shot from the edge of the box was well read by Fall.
Yahaya made sure of the third only two minutes after the restart, heading beyond Fall from Utin’s corner kick. In the 53rd minute, Abubakar Ibrahim should have scored but shot wide from a great chance.
In the 66th minute, Yahaya’s well –placed drive was diverted for a corner by Fall, and from the resultant kick, Aniekeme Okon made it four for Nigeria.
Alalade, Yahaya and Okon came close to scoring as the seven –time African champions took the game by the scruff in the latter stages.
Norway –based Afeez Aremu put the icing on the cake in added time when he slotted past Fall from the penalty spot after Okon was badly halted in the box.
Aigbogun, however, declared that it was not an easy match for his side, as he acknowledged that the Mauritanians gave a good account of themselves and tried to turn the apple cart, after a 1-1 draw in the first leg, but noted that his side’s early goals made a world of difference.
He stated: “They were also motivated to win this game. They eliminated Morocco and Guinea. They won all their home games and we were the only team who scored against them at their home.
“The early goals gave us the confidence to get a fantastic victory. Those goals increased our confidence and the boys heeded to our instructions and got the tactics right especially with the water-logged pitch.”