There is a unique joy that is associated when a team wins a game after going down at some point within the game. Comebacks excites the fans, signifies mental strength, doggedness and can give comfort in subsequent games when the team is down.
After winning their first two games in the ongoing U-17 World Cup in Brazil, the Golden Eaglets lost last night to Australia. They were trailing 2-1 at the 75th minute to Hungary and Ecuador in the first two games but turned it around to 4-2 and 3-2 respectively.
Already assured of qualification, Coach Manu Garba tinkered his team, giving game time to some of the Eaglets yet to feature.
When Olawale cancelled Noah Botic’s 13th minute strike for Australia in the 20th minute, the hope was that Nigeria would complete another comeback. The Eaglets conceded a second half penalty to allow Botic score his brace in the 53rd minute and become the second player to score twice against Nigeria in the U17 World Cup.
Spoilt with the recent comebacks, Nigerians were unmoved going down 2-1. They believed that the Eaglets will do it again. Attack upon attack, yet the goals failed to come. Dubbed Super Eaglets by FIFA, the Nigerians came close but couldn’t get the equalizer.
The final whistle was greeted with happiness by the Joeys who recorded their first win against Nigeria after 6 consecutive defeats. They finish third in the group but progressed to the knock out phase.
For Nigeria, conceding 6 goals in the group stage is a first and unusual. They had never conceded more than 4 in the group stage before Brazil 2019. With the knock out stages upon us, Manu Garba cannot always rely on comebacks to progress. He needs to work on how the young lads concede goals. Won’t you love a clean sheet?
In the long run, it is teen football and we can curb our expectations as they progress through the football learning curve. Let us enjoy the game.
Bonus: for the jersey believers, Dark Green 2-1 Aseobi Green.
Photocredit: @Fastrack100 on Twitter