Date Published: 10/09/09
The Flying Eagles had the better chance in every aspect of the game. But 10-men Germans came twice from behind to prevent what could have been the biggest shock of the tournament. Germany 3 Nigeria 2 in the U-20 second match in Egypt.
Soccer: Nigeria Shouldn’t Have Lost To Germany By By Hakeem Babalola
Nigerian Flying Eagles played Germany in one of the second rounds in the ongoing U-20 World Cup tagged Egypt 2009. It was a good match by every standard and the EUROSPORT commentators attested to this fact.
The match was full of dramatic moments and the Flying Eagles were the better side in terms of possessing the ball, especially in the first half. They controlled the ball as if it was not the same team that had struggled during the group stage.
Our boys came with one mission: to win and then move on to face Brazil in the quarter finals. And they would have achieved that feat but for carelessness or complacency or lack of concentration, they threw away such unusual opportunity. They should have beaten the German boys. Period
Of course the Flying Eagles were the underdogs having managed to win one game in their group and lost two matches. In fact they qualified for the second round through back door. It was as a result of FIFA rules that allow best third-placed teams to progress.
The underdog status seemed to play in their favour, and especially when the Germans were reduced to ten players. But that also proved to be their undoing. Is it over confidence? They all moved forward several times and left Okafor, the goalkeeper, at the mercy of German strikers. And the off-side tactics like the game against Spain proved costly.
Although our boys should have scored in the first half as they did not allow the Germans to play their game, it was a sigh of relief for me to see them held the Germans to a goalless draw.
The Flying Eagles took the game to the Germans at the start of the second half and finally found the net in the 52nd minute when Osanga crossed for Uchechi to head into the net.
And so the drama started. Our boy’s concentration waned right from the kick off of that goal and allowed the Germans to equalise immediately.
In the 64th minute, German Kempe was shown a straight red card for stepping on the knee of Nurudeen Orelesi. It affected the Germans and Uchechi should have scored but missed several chances.
The Flying Eagles took the lead for the second time in the game in the 68th minute. I was like wow the history is going to repeat itself, for Germany has never beaten Nigeria in the youth tournaments. We have defeated the Germans in previous encounters at this level. We are on the verge to repeat our mastery over them, I began to amuse myself.
And I was beginning to congratulate myself for writing the previous article, "Flying Eagles Still Can Fly". I was beginning to think of the next title for my article (something like The Biggest Surprise of the Tournament) when the Germans struck. Even with ten men they refused to bow down and equalised in the 75th minute. How painful it was.
Yet our boys should have wrapped the game up but Uchechi's shot went over the bar after being cleverly set up by Rabiu Ibrahim in the penalty box.
Oh, the miss proved costly as German Kopplin ran quickly from the Flying Eagles corner in the last kick of the game. He was chased half the length of the pitch before slithering the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper and gbam inside the net.
And two big tears had formed in my eyes. And my stomach rumbled. And I became sentimental muttering something like…
"When are we going to get it right? We shouldn't have lost this match...I mean our boys should have caused the biggest upset in the tournament by beating the Germans and we almost did it...What with the Germans that we lacked? Is it the Nigerian factor again....Oh, what a wasteful opportunity?
And I went to the rest room. And I said to myself in annoyance, "I will never watch Flying Eagles matches again…Enough of unnecessary disappointment.
But then that is why I love the game. The surprises and the fact that football is not mathematics, for if it were mathematics, our boys should have beaten the Germans in a game they dominated throughout. Ah, allowing 10-men Germany to come back twice and beat us? It was too much for me to bear.
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