Flying Eagles in long agonising wait
Despite walloping Tahiti 5-0 in their last Group B game, the Flying Eagles are not yet sure of making it to the next round of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. It is still a long, long wait.
It is a waiting game that may persist till late Saturday night when all the group games must have been concluded.
As there are provisions for four 'best losers' to advance to the next stage alongside other qualifiers, the Flying Eagles will have to wait till Saturday night when all the group games, especially the Costa Rica versus Czech Republic in Alexandria, would have been completed to know their fate. The last matches begin at about 8.30pm Nigerian time. Then they will know whether they are one of the four best third-placed finishers.
After all said and done, if the Flying Eagles are ranked among the 'best losers', they will certainly stay back and play in the quarterfinals. But if they are not, on Saturday morning, they will be boarding the next available flight home.
Thursday's match with Tahiti had begun on optimistic note as the Nigerians threw everything into the game and it appeared they might even get the tournament's fastest goal as they invaded Tahiti's territory in the opening minutes of the game.
Anxiety appeared to have taken the better part of the Flying Eagles as they missed and missed chances. They had to wait for a quarter of an hour before King Osanga combined well with Sone Aluko to feed Obiora Nwankwo who hit a shot past the Tahiti goalkeeper.
Then a flurry of attack began. Nigeria increased the tally in the 24th minute, took advantage of some slack defending to head home Osanga's corner.
Misfiring Kehinde Fatai scored Flying Eagles' third goal 10 minutes later when he converted yet another corner from Osanga.
Two minutes before half time, Tahiti were reduced to 10 men when Lorenzo Tehau was sent off for a second book-able offence. On the stroke of 45 minutes, Nurudeen Orelesi became the second Nigerian to tear the goal post net with his goal when he fired home a shot to put Nigeria four goals up.
Second half was largely frustrating for coach Samson Siasia boys as they missed several scoring chances.
Tahiti were again reduced to nine men in the 74th minute when Lorenzo's brother, Alvin Tehau, was sent off.
Daniel Adejo made it five in the last minute. The final score line means Nigeria have three points and two goals difference. They will now await a situation that will see at least two third-placed teams having a lower goal difference, should such teams also have three points.