An unbeaten record throughout the group stages had earned the Young All Whites a place in the history books as the first kiwi team to reach the knockout stages of a FIFA event, but three goals in 30 minutes and a 35 minute red card to Cameron Lindsay for a rash tackle effectively ended the match as a contest.
New Zealand coach Steve Cain was quick to praise his side’s effort in reaching the last 16 and label the hosts favourites to claim a record fourth U-17 crown.
“I’m immensely proud of my team’s performance,” Cain said.
“It was a bridge too far for us tonight. They were too quick, too strong and too clever. With eleven men on the park it was difficult, with ten it was impossible. They’re a hell of a side.”
“I’ve always thought Nigeria were favourites, but didn’t say it because I didn’t want to frighten my players. If any one beats them they’ll deserve to win the tournament.”
Edafe Egbedi helped himself to a first half double, his goals sandwiching Stanley Okoro’s 24th minute effort, with two of Nigeria’s first three goals taking deflections on their way past Coey Turipa.
In the second half, the three-time champions were content to reserve energy for an impending quarterfinal against Korea, until super-sub Sani Emmanuel came off the bench to score a quick fire double and extend the final damage to 5-0.
After soaking up early pressure, New Zealand captain Gordon Murie headed an early chance over the bar but it wasn’t long before the weight of Nigerian chances told with Egbedi strolling to the edge of the New Zealand 18-yard box and unleashing a shot which Turipa appeared to have covered until an attempted block by Murie deflected it past him.
The kiwis could have been back on level terms just moments later but Lindsay misdirected his unmarked header from a Zane Sole free-kick.
That was as much warning as the Golden Eaglets needed, with fullback Aigbe Oliha unleashing a thundering volley which Turipa did well to beat away, but only as far as Okoro whose close range follow up bounced off the leg of a desperate defender.
Egbedi’s second, a first time scoop with the outside of his foot into the far top corner of the goal, was the goal of the game, although Emmanuel’s late cameo with two clinical goals set up by the impressive Okoro made sure the 35,000 strong home crowd went home singing.
There were plenty of other chances for a dominant Nigerian side, with New Zealand defenders chasing shadows for large portions of the game, especially when down a man, and while there was to be no dramatic comeback as with New Zealand’s previous two games, the kiwis departed with their heads held high.
“With what this group has achieved in a very short space of time, we should be very proud of them,: Cain said.
Today, against a World-class opponent, became a lesson that we need to go back to the drawing board on a number of things, learn from it and come back stronger next time.”
FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009
October 25 – November 15
Round of 16
New Zealand: 0
Nigeria: 5 (Edafe EGBEDI 14, 28, Stanley OKORO 24, Sani EMMANUEL 75, 79)
Halftime: 0-3
New Zealand: 1-Coey TURIPA (GK), 3-Adam THOMAS, 5- Gordon MURIE (Captain / 4-Luis ESTEVEZ 66), 7-Josh MORRISON, 10-Zane SOLE,13-Michael BUILT (19-Andrew BEVIN 79), 14-Thomas SPRAGG (12-Tane GENT 60), 15-Andrew MILNE, 16-Jamie DORIS, 17-Cameron LINDSAY, 18-Ashton PETT.
Substitutes not used 2-Matt GIBBONS, 6-Tim PILKINGTON, 8-Stephen KIBBY, 9-Nikolai MOLIJN, 11-Jack Hobson-MCVEIGH, 20-Alex CARR (RGK), 21-Patrick GEORGE (RGK).
Coach: Steve CAIN (ENG)
Nigeria: 1-Dami PAUL (GK), 2-Aigbe OLIHA, 3-Mohammed ALIYU, 5-Fortune CHUKWUDI, 6-Kenneth OMERUO, 8-Stanley OKORO, 9-Abdul AJAGUN (15-Yusuf OTUBANJO 83), 11-Terry ENVOH, 13-Omoh OJABU (14-Sani EMMANUEL 74), 18-Edafe EGBEDI (10-Olarenwaju KAYODE 76), 20-Ramon AZEEZ.
Substitutes not used: 4-Ogenyi ONAZI7-White AGWUOCHA, , 12-Chukwujike MGBAM, 16-Amos IZUCHUKWU (RGK), 17-Obinna OKORO, 19-Deji JOEL, 21-John FELAGHA (RGK).
Coach: John OBUH (NGA)
Cautions: Jamie DORIS (NZL)
Red Cards: Cameron LINDSAY (NZL)
Story courtesy NZF Media
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