Soccer: Nigeria lose World Cup U-17 to Switzerland
By SAM AUDU
On Sunday night, November 15, 2009, Switzerland became the new FIFA Under-17 World Cup when they defeated hosts and defending champions Nigeria 1-0 at a packed Abuja National Stadium.
Haris Seferovic gave Switzerland the championship in the 63rd minute when his header from a corner beat Nigeria goalkeeper Dami Paul. The Swiss had been impressive leading to this championship game, but had to dig deep, especially in defense, to contain the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria, before they dealt the killer blow through Seferovic to the disappointment of the 60,000-strong crowd at the game.
Nigeria were overwhelming favourites to win their fourth Under-17 World Cup, particularly on the back of the senior team’s dramatic qualification for next year’s World Cup in South Africa.
They got off to a flying start when Abdul Ajagun was denied after only three minutes as his shot from inside the box was cleared off the goalline by a Swiss defender. And a minute later, Okoro’s shot was pushed away by the outstanding goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist.
The match was held up momentarily in the seventh minute after a collision between Nigeria striker Sani Emmanuel and goalkeeper Siegrist.
Switzerland’s best moment in the first period was when defender Janick Kamber went past the Nigerian defense after 11 minutes, but his final effort was smothered by the Nigeria goalkeeper.
Kenneth Omerou’s header off a Terry Envoh corner in the 16th minute flew just wide of the mark.
The Swiss did well to contain the early Nigerian onslaught as they began to also find their rhythm, even launching a few attacks of their own in the process.
In first half stoppage time, Emmanuel had a great chance to put Nigeria ahead but scoffed his intended chip off target. Moments later, at the other end of the pitch, Nigeria’s glovesman had to dive to save a shot fired by Pajtim Kasami from distance.
Nassim Ben Khalifa and Haris Seferovic combined beautifully in the 56th minute as they opened up the Nigerian defense, only for Seferovic to eventually miss target – but only narrowly.
Two minutes later, Okoro’s stinging shot was pushed away by Siegrist as the Europeans continued to keep out the home team.
Soon after came the stunning Swiss opener, Nigeria fought back for an equalizing goal.
Substitute Yinka Otubanjo’s header crashed against the crossbar, while Ramon Azeez tried a shot from distance, but it was the Swiss who had the last chance to get on the scoreboard when Ben Khalifa fired at goal, Dami Paul somehow managing to keep it out. By Samm Audu of Goal.com