With exactly two months to the kick off of the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the UAE, the Golden Eaglets marked the milestone on Saturday with a 1-0 win against Tempbol Soccer Academy, a Cross River State’s Amateur League team-at the practice pitch of the U.J Esuene Sport Stadium in Calabar.
The game against Tempbol that incidentally lost 3-0 to the National Under-17 team last year, was another opportunity for coach Manu Garba (MFR) to see how some of his new recruits are faring in the face of
Garba made a wholesale change by resting the regular faces with the exemption of attacking midfielder, Musa Yahaya who was handed the captain’s band and defender Zaharadeen Bello.
The new boys showed they are learning fast with gritty play right from the start of the game with stand-in captain, Yahaya at the heart of most actions.
Yahaya could have, however, put the Eaglets in the lead almost at the half hour but he failed to convert from the penalty spot as his kick ricocheted off the post with the goalkeeper Life Effiong rooted to the spot.
But Yahaya proved to be a captain fantastic when he pounced on a cross from Chigozie Obasi to finally give the Eaglets the curtain raiser towards the end of the first half. Yet the Eaglets could not add any
other goal despite spirited efforts and near domination of the opposition to end the fist stanza 1-0.
Tempbol however, came strongly in the second half as they matched the Eaglets power-for-power. Nevertheless, it was Eaglets’ newcomer, Jacob Njoku-the former Under-15 left-footed midfielder-that nearly added his name to the scorer’s sheet when he struck a volley that was parried over the bar by Effiong who was very impressive in goal.
Njoku was back in the hunt again some minutes afterwards yet his best effort graced the post for another respite for Tempbol. Tempbol took over the reins of the game towards the end of the match but their near domination was not translated into goals much to the frustration of their Team Manager, Amadi Egwu Temple.
“We tried but it was not enough against the Golden Eaglets again today,” Temple said.”But I’m happy that we kept a respectable score line unlike when we lost 3-0 the last time.
“Generally, it was a good match especially as we were able to give your new boys a stiff test,” he reasoned.
Golden Eaglets’ assistant coach, Nduka Ugbade corroborated Temple’s verdict adding that resting some of the known faces in the squad has again given gave the technical crew an idea of what to be done as
they focus on the bigger picture in the UAE.
“The game was good for us to see largely how the new boys are integrating themselves into the team and their performance can always be better,” noted Ugbade. “Of course, we are looking forward to the World Cup and we are surely going to work on those grey areas we have noticed.”
The Golden Eaglets, meanwhile, would be observing Sunday as a rest day and are expected back in training on Monday.