They came on a revenge mission but the Golden Eaglets dispatched Diamond Football Club of Umuahia 5-1 in a thrilling friendly match at the main bowl of the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar on Saturday.
A brace from Chidera Eze and three goals from as many players saw off the high flying Abia State- based team that recently won the Iber Under-16 Tournament in Portugal.
Parading the likes of Polycarp Amadi, Iroha Chukwuebuka, and Paul Obi amongst others who had passed through the Golden Eaglets’ mill and still smarting from a recent 5-0 loss to the National Under-17 team six months ago, one would be forgiven to tag this as a grudge match.
Indeed, Diamond under the consortium of Coach Tony Adele, Harrison Mecha and Obiorah, started on the offensive like wounded lions much to the admiration of the fans-including their President who clapped at every twist and turn.
Yet against the run of play in the 24th minute, Musa Yahaya made a breakthrough from the left to deliver a pinpoint pullout that was pushed into the net by prowling Chidera Ezeh.
The manner of that curtain raiser may have infuriated the Diamond boys as they turned on the heat and they were rewarded in the 38th minutes when Ansalem Chukwuebuka buried the ball behind Sunday Alampasu after a chain of passes that opened the defensive wall of the Golden Eaglets.
But Ezeh was not done yet as he provided the pullout for his former Under-15 teammate, Taiwo Awoniyi to nod home with a masterful header in the 38th minute. Barely two minutes to the end of the first half, had Ezeh scored another goal off a corner kick by Kelechi Iheanacho.
Almost immediately, Iheanacho was solely heading towards the goal but was badly body-checked close to the box by on-rushing goalkeeper Believe Imiete, who was immediately given a matching order.
After the break, there was no marked difference as both sides tenaciously held their grounds. But like a bolt from the blues in the 61st minute, Awoniyi and Yahaya made a swift exchange of passes which the latter eventually slotted behind Diamond’s new replacement in goal.
Diamond was still undaunted despite with 10 players but Coach Manu Garba soon brought in Habib Makanjuola, Godwin Odibo and Clement Ogbobe into the fray.
However, it was the fleet-footed Odibo that gave Diamond more headaches almost immediately when he sped away with ball only to be
brought down in the 18-yard box. The resultant penalty kick was converted by Golden Eaglets’ captain Musa Muhammed to kill off the resolve of Diamond lads with barely 15 minutes left of regulation time.
The result notwithstanding, officials from both sides commended the performance of the two teams since there were positive inferences that could help their cause in the future as they milled together afterwards in an atmosphere of cordiality.