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The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria Are Unlucky Losers at Home
The hosting right for the 2009 FIFA U-17 World was awarded to Nigeria by football’s governing body FIFA in 2007 at its Extraordinary Congress held in Korea. The competition will be the third FIFA-organized competition hosted by Nigeria after successfully hosting the FIFA U-20 Championship in 1999. The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria will be defending the title they won in Korea on home soil, but the build-up to the Cadet World Cup was dealt a serious blow when the Nigerian football the federation sacked coach Henry Nwosa who was then in charge of the team and announced the appointment of coach John Obuh and Monday Odigie as assistants.
The team suffered another blow when a large number of players were ruled out due to the results of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test the team conducted. But the slump did not deter coach John Obuh, who still managed to bring together a group of talented footballers from football academies scattered across Nigeria. The competition was played in eight designated cities: Enugu, Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna, Calabar Ijebu-Ode, Kano and Bauchi.
In the competition, which was held from 24 October 2009 to 15 November 2009, the Golden Eaglets began their defense of the trophy with a dramatic 3–3 draw with Germany after the Germans had taken a 3–0 lead. In their second group game, the young Eaglets inflicted a 1-0 defeat on a hapless Honduras side. They secured the tournament for 16 tickets in the final group match against Argentina by convincingly defeating the South Americans 2:1.
More drama was to unfold in the round of 16, where the Golden Eaglets were paired with inexperienced New Zealand. The match ended with a 5-0 thrashing of New Zealand. The Golden Eaglets weren’t done yet as they beat the hard-fought boys from South Korea 3-1 in the quarter-finals to set up a semi-final clash with the enterprising Spaniards, who spoiled revenge for a 3-0 defeat. inflicted on them in 2007. The game was tied in regulation time with a dazzling goal from Stanley Okoro and a supersub from Emmanuel Sanni to give the Golden Eaglet a convincing 3-1 win. The Golden Eaglets were one step away from making history as the only country to host and win the U-17 trophy as the defending champions.
In the final, which was played at the magnificent National Stadium, Abuja, Nigeria failed to capitalize on the numerous opportunities presented to them in an entertaining encounter with Switzerland. They were to pay for their numerous misses when the only goal of the match was scored by Swiss striker Heris Seferovic with a free header in the 63rd minute of the epic encounter.
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