Yet again, Nigeria’s name was written in gold in Senegal after the Flying Eagles of Nigeria, the country’s Under-20 national team, was crowned the champion of the African Youth Championship (AYC) after a lone goal on Sunday March 22, 2015 at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium.
The lone goal that made all the difference was scored by Bernard Bulbwa in the first half of the match which made Nigeria to lift the seventh AYC trophy. This final match was the second time the Nigerian team would be facing the Senegalese
Nigeria and Senegal had faced each other earlier in the group opener of the competition with the Flying Eagles emerging as 3-1 winners. The second match was between Nigeria and Congo. The match ended 4-1 in favour of Nigeria. The last group match was between Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. The match ended in 1-1 draw.
The Flying Eagles faced Ghana in the semi-final of the tournament. Ghana was walloped 2-0 by the Nigerian side.
Speaking on the outcome of the championship, Manu Garba, the Head Coach of Nigeria declares that: “I feel elated and great. I was part of the team that won the same competition in 1983 as a player and I’m happy to win it as a coach. The difference is the goal of the tournament which was scored by Number 7, Bernard Bulbwa. This team is the future of Nigerian football. We have only two players from the Nigeria Premier League with the rest from academies, which is a good sign for the development of Nigerian football.”
The captain of the victorious team and the top scorer of the championship with 4 goals, Musa Mohamed, said that: “We are happy with our performance as champions. From the beginning, we promised ourselves not just the ticket for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but to qualify as African champions. We are happy to achieve both. We played a more compact game based on the tactics of the coach since it was a final match.”
Elated about the victorious news, President Goodluck Jonathan congratulated the Flying Eagles of Nigeria on their victory over Senegal in the final of the 2015 African Youth Championship.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President said he looked forward to receiving the team at his earliest convenience on their return to the country with the aim of honouring them for bringing more sporting glory to their fatherland.
Jonathan also promised the Flying Eagles that they would have the full backing of the Federal Government for their participation in the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The World Awaits
The next assignment for the Flying Eagles is to conquer the world at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand 2015. Nigeria will be leading other African representatives like Senegal, Ghana and Mali at the Championship.
The Flying Eagles of Nigeria will slug it out with Brazil, Korea DPR and Hungary in Group E. The tournament is expected to start from May 30 to June 20, 2015 in New Zealand.