UAE U17 World Cup: Nigeria complete semi-final line-up

Kenny Laurie
UAE U17 World Cup: Nigeria complete semi-final line-up

Nigeria dispatched Uruguay 2-0 on Saturday evening to complete the FIFA UAE Under-17 World Cup semi-final line-up. A goal in each half Taiwo Awoniyi proved enough to ensure victory for the Golden Eaglets.

Sport360's Kenny Laurie was at the Sharjah Stadium to watch the action unfold and has provided his verdict on the match.


A rampant Nigeria swooped into the semi-finals, overpowering Uruguay 2-0 thanks to two strikes from Taiwo Awoniyi in either half.

In the opening minutes, Enrique Etcheverry missed the chance to give the South Americans an early lead, running onto a loose ball in the Nigerian penalty area, but his firm effort went straight at the goalkeeper.

Against a team like Nigeria, you have to take your chances. And they were punished duly after 17 minutes when Kelechi Iheanacho played a decisive through ball 20 yards, cutting open the Uruguay defence, with Taiwo Awoniyi catching the keeper by surprise, striking a first time effort into the corner.

Nigeria almost threatened to wash out the South Americans but Uruguay held firm and in the second half took the better of the game, playing with more intent and snap in the tackle.

Stubbornly resisting and going toe-to-toe with the superior Nigerians, Uruguay made their presence felt without ever truly testing the goalkeeper.

The South Americans proximity to an equaliser made it all the more devastating when 12 minutes from time when Iheanacho passed the ball square across the goal for Awoniyi who put the game beyond reach.

So devastated were the spirited Uruguayans that goalkeeper Thaigo Cardoza was brought to tears as he watched the ball sat in the back of the net.

Nigeria will now face Group F rivals Sweden in the last-four. The two sides shared a thrilling 3-3 draw earlier in the tournament.

Elsewhere, Argentina and Mexico will go head-to-head for a place in the final.


When Manu Garba uses the word "blistering" to describe his side's attacking potential, he isn't using it lightly when Nigeria's attack has plenty of splutters, their intent can't be questioned.

The moment they won the ball, the heads go up and the ball swiftly makes its way wide before eventually reaching the penalty area in break neck speed without recourse to a risky pass.

Captain and right back Musa Muhammed instantly bolts up the right wing the moment Nigeria gain possession, consistently giving them an extra man going forward and establishing genuine width.

With Musa Yahaya pulling the strings behind the striker, Nigeria really were a force to be reckoned with. That Uruguay didn't drown is a testament to them. Employing a direct style, the South Americans were never far away from a dangerous attack regardless of how much pressure they were under.

Garba's words of "total football" are perhaps a little overstated, but the Nigerians undoubtedly attacked in waves with perpetual movement and quick passing, enough to send the Uruguayan's dizzy.


Manu Garba (Nigeria coach)
"At U17 level its not about winning, it's about development. The most important thing is that we are getting a nucleus for the future U20 team. We are here to compete too and we are progressing well. On a good day no one can stop us.

Fabian Coito (Uruguay coach)
"The match was as we imagined. They are so rapid, their players are so fast. We expected what they did, we had our opportunities but they were so quick. We tried throughout the game but we just couldn't find that goal. Man to watch Kelechi Iheanacho and Musa Yahaya are supremely impressive. Rangy athletes with quick feet and minds. Nigeria are all about drive, pace, technique and urgency and those two are the ones that set that tone." 


A valiant effort from Uruguay who were never overawed by the intimidating Nigerians but in the end quality simply won out.


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