2018 Fifa World Cup Goal Of The Tournament Award 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship – Flying Eagles Wobble and Fumble At Home

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1999 FIFA World Youth Championship – Flying Eagles Wobble and Fumble At Home

In 1999, Nigeria won the right to host the 12th edition of the FIFA World Youth Championship. That was the year; the Flying Eagles were tagged “wobbling and fumbling”. They began their World Cup campaign on home soil on a rather embarrassing note, with a 1-1 draw against lowly Costa Rica with Julius Aghahowa scoring the opener in the 20th minute of play, before taking their feat against Germany, which they defeated. 2-0. The goals were scored by Ganiyu Shittu and Hashimu Garba in the 69th and 81st minutes respectively.

Their last group game was against Paraguay, and they fumbled in front of a full crowd that had come to cheer them on to victory. The match against Paraguay ended in favor of Paraguay 2-1 with Ganiyu Shittu scoring the consolation goal in the 38th minute of play. However, the Flying Eagles managed to qualify for the round of 16 by the skin of their teeth.

In the round of 16, the Flying Eagles labored to secure a 1-1 draw against Ireland with the equalizing goal coming from striker Pius Ikedia in the 70th Minute. The game then went into penalty kicks, and millions of Nigerians had their hearts in their mouths throughout the kicks. In the end it became a hindrance for the Flying Eagles and they scraped through 5-3. Pius Ikedia, Gbenga Okunowo, John Aranka, Eddy Dombraye and Ganiyu Shittu converted their penalty kicks. Republic of Ireland’s Thomas Heary missed his spot-kick to set up a quarter-final tie between Nigeria and Mali.

The Flying Eagles had their work cut out for them as the Malians were found to be too hot to handle in the quarterfinal clash played at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium in Enugu eastern Nigeria. The Malians were so ruthless in the quarter-final that they defeated the annoying Eagles 3-1 who could not fly when it mattered most. The main tormentor of the Flying Eagles was the enterprising Malian midfielder, Seydou Keita, who would later emerge as the winner of the Adidas Golden ball award.

The defeat of the Flying Eagles caused a lot of commotion in the sports circle, with the eventual sack of Dutch Coach Thijs Libregts by the technical crew of the Nigerian National U-20 team. The team had a lot of potential, but they could not use their full potential. Some of the notable players in that team include: Joseph Yobo, Rabiu Afolabi, Julius Aghahowa, Haruna Babangida and late goalkeeper Sam Okoye.

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