The intrepid U-17 Flamingos of Nigeria ran the gauntlet yesterday night to vanquish Egypt with 2 goals to nil thereby keeping their hopes of qualifying for the world cup alive.
Faced with a hostile home crowd and the bitterly cold weather in Cairo, it took only 5 minutes for deadly Opeyemi Ajakaye to put Nigeria ahead in thrilling style from a well worked manoeuvre.
Another carefully choreographed move gave birth to Nigeria's second goal in 14 minutes after Adeshina's crafty corner kick picked out Aminat Bello who in turn did the needful with a goal of deluxe quality.
2:0 it ended with the Flamingos winning 6:0 on aggregate.
Coach Bankole, who was immensely proud of his girls, said afterwards : "this particular match was difficult to be honest. Number one, the Egyptian home support was one thing but the weather as well was unbelievably harsh.
This was way beyond what we had expected. The conditions were tough but my girls really tried. We got the result we wanted," said the Yoruba coach.
Nigeria will now face either South Africa or Ethiopia in the final round of qualifiers.
"Once we know the team we are facing, we will carry out a reconnaissance mission to study them so that we can map out the right strategies to overcome them. That is how we have approached all the other teams in this series," said coach Bankole.
The Flamingos indeed showed character and determination, not only to win this match, but to ensure that they kept their much prized clean sheet.
The Egyptian coach made it quite clear in Abuja that they would not make it easy for Nigeria in Cairo and so it proved. Playing the 10 pm Cairo time was always going to be seen by cynical Nigeria fans like myself as a ploy by the Egyptians to take advantage of their bitterly cold weather.
And coach Bankole and his girls were visibly rattled by this. His girls got their goals quite early before the effect of the weather could really set in and they had to do a lot of defending in the course of the match to keep Egypt at bay; arguably more defending than they had been used to thus far in this qualifying series.
In the 62nd minute,Egypt's Hda Mostha and Laila Zahar were trojan horses to Nigeria's defence with menacing and insidious incursions that had to be repelled. Then in the dying minutes, Nadia and Mosteha combined to smelt a save out of goalkeeper Omilana's freezing fingers.
But the Flamingos weathered the storm.
More sterner tests await them at the world cup in India. But there is the little business of navigating the final round of qualifiers where either South Africa or Ethiopia lie in wait.
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