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FIFA U-17: How Eaglets Crashed

-Compiled By Saidu Abubakar

• Brazil 2019 comes to thrilling conclusion
• Hosts become second side to hoist trophy on home soil
• France place third with three goals from Kalimuendo-Muinga

The final day at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™ came to a close with an increasingly familiar scene: Brazil raising the trophy aloft as world champions.

A Seleção collected their fourth U-17 crown after an emotional 2-1 triumph over Mexico in the final at Brasilia’s Estadio Bezerrao. The Brazilians have now moved within one title of equalling record holders Nigeria, though this was their first since 2003. It also may have been the sweetest, given that the South Americans became only the second team to top the competition as hosts – the first, interestingly enough, was Mexico eight years ago.

For the second straight match, Lazaro was Brazil’s super sub. He capped his side’s comeback against France in the semi-final by bagging the winning goal in the 89th minute. Brazil fell behind in the 66th minute when Bryan Gonzalez beat Adidas Golden Glove winner Matheus Donelli with a superbly-directed header. A Kaio Jorge penalty goal brought Brazil roaring back 18 minutes later, and Lazaro’s volleyed, close-range strike three minutes into second-half stoppage time sealed the trophy for the hosts.

In the third-place match, France rode Arnaud Kalimuendo-Muinga’s hat-trick to victory over European rivals the Netherlands. Both teams benefitted from the reintroduction of their captains, who missed their respective semi-finals. Oranje field general Kenneth Taylor assisted the opening goal of the match, flicking a pass over the French defence to play Mohamed Taabouni in on goal. France captain Lucien Agoume countered with an incisive through ball seven minutes later, which eventually led to Kalimuendo-Muinga’s first goal. The Paris Saint-Germain starlet scored two more in the second period en route to Les Bleuets’ bronze medal finish.
Mexico 1-2 Brazil

Third-place match
Netherlands 1-3 France

Memorable moments
The goal that almost wasn’t: Kaio Jorge’s penalty goal in the 84th minute revitalised both his team and the home crowd, but it nearly didn’t come off for a pair of reasons. Initially not judged a penalty on the field, Alejandro Gomez’s sliding challenge of Gabriel Veron in the box was later reviewed by VAR, and the call was reversed. The Brazilian No9’s shot from the spot did not fool goalkeeper Edu Garcia, who got a hand to it. But Kaio Jorge’s aim and power were enough to propel the ball past Garcia and into the net.

No early chances
Mexico’s unrelenting defence played a large part in their run through the tournament. Coming into the final they had not conceded a first-half goal in any match, and that remained true on Sunday at Estadio Bezerrao. Peppered with promising Brazilian team moves featuring Veron and Kaio Jorge, captain Eugenio Pizzuto and El Tri did enough to deny their opposition the goal they sought in the opening period, keeping the tie level and even grabbing a second-half lead before succumbing to defeat.

French firepower
Arnaud Kalimuendo-Muinga became the second French player to rack up three goals in one outing at Brazil 2019, joining Nathanael Mbuku, who did it in the Round of 16. No other team in the tournament boasts a duo of hat-trick scorers. France’s attack was surely one of the competition’s best. They overpowered a pair of knockout stage opponents – Australia (4-0) and Spain (6-1) – before succumbing to the hosts in their semi-final.

…How Comeback Specialists (Eaglets) Crashed Out
Nigeria crashed out of the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup finals in Brazil after losing 1-3 to Netherlands in their Round of 16 clash in Goiania, reported.

To reach the knockout stage, the team had come from behind twice to beat Hungary and Equador but lost to Australia in the group stage. They conceded 6 goals and scored 8 in the group stage a statistics many feared were not good enough going into the knockout phase.

On their part, the Dutch lost their first two matches of the competition and only got into the knockout stage thanks to their 4-0 defeat of USA in their final group phase encounter, while Nigeria topped Group B following wins over Hungary and Ecuador and shock defeat to Australia.

The Golden Eaglets’ untidy habit of conceding early in their games proved ill-advised this time, as Sontje Hansen scored in the fourth minute and then followed up with two more goals to render Olakunle Olusegun’s goal from a blistering shot in the 12th minute ineffective.

A game of very high intensity at the Estadio Olimpico was decided by tactical awareness, silky skill, economic football and good organization, with the Eaglets doing most of the running but failing to get their passes right in the critical zone. They were also guilty of wayward shooting.

After Olusegun cancelled Hansen’s first goal, the Nigerian youngsters had themselves to blame for Hansen’s second, which arrived no thanks to sloppy defending of a free kick in the 15th minute. A poorly cleared ball fell at the feet of the gifted Hansen at the edge of the box, and he let fly a rasping drive that goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu had no answer to.

Oluwatimilehin Adeniyi got a poor touch on the ball from Ibrahim Sa’id’s cross in the 22nd minute and a stinging Sa’id shot was parried by the Dutch goalie 11 minutes later.

In the second half, Charles Etim’s good shot in the 54th minute only rattled the Dutch goalkeeper, and four minutes later, Akinkunmi Amoo should have done better when he had only the opposing goalkeeper to beat.

Coach Manu Garba introduced Divine Nwachukwu and Ibraheem Jabaar while withdrawing Peter Olawale and Sa’id, but Nigeria could find no way back into the game in the manner they did against Hungary and Ecuador in their first two matches.

FILE: Olakunle Olusegun of Nigeria reacts during the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 Group B match between Nigeria and Ecuador at Estadio Olimpico de Goias on October 29, 2019 in Goiania, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images

Rather, 11 minutes from time, the Video Assistant Referee spotted a handball by Clement Ikenna as Nigeria defended another Dutch onslaught, and Hansen swept the ball past Jinadu for Netherlands’ third goal.

Culled from