Flying Eagles beat hosts Tanzania for bright start in 2015 AYC qualifiers

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ABUJA – The Flying Eagles got off to a bright start in the qualifiers for the  2015 African Youth Championship (AYC) after beating hosts Tanzania 2-0 in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

The Nigerian under-20 male football team scored in the 49th minute through Musa Yahaya and extended their lead in the 82nd minute through Taiwo Awoniyi.

According to a statement by the team’s Media Officer, Samm Audu, the second round first leg match was watched by a sizeable crowd at the 60,000-capacity National Stadium.

During the goalless first half, Nigeria enjoyed more of the ball possession and created more chances with their biggest opening when Yahaya blasted wide from inside the six-yard after 24 minutes.

Newly-drafted Tanzanian striker Saad Kipanga also had a glorious chance to put his team ahead after just five minutes, but his header from inside the box missed its target.

The home team suffered a major blow when first-choice goalkeeper and skipper Aishi Manula could not continue after a thigh injury in the first period.

He was therefore replaced by Peter Manyika for the resumption of the second half.

Four minutes after the break, Tanzania’s worst fears came to be as Yahaya pushed past Manyika from the near post after a low cross by skipper Musa Muhammed.

Kelechi Iheanacho, who replaced Alhassan Ibrahim for the second half, was denied a goal in the 54th minute by a piece of brilliant goalkeeping by Manyika.

Flying Eagles goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo ensured he kept a clean sheet when he made a big save in 67th minute and another one late on as Tanzania attacked.

But Awoniyi killed off the tie eight minutes from time, when he held off stand-in captain Pato Ngonyani before slotting past the onrushing goalkeeper.

The home team created several openings late on to at least reduce the tally, but Abdallah Kheri and Juma Liuzio both failed to find target from inside the 18-yard box.

“This win away from home is very, very good for us, going into the return leg match in Nigeria,” the team’s coach, Manu Garba, told newsmen after the match.

“Tanzania also showed they are a very good side, but they will have to work on their finishing.

“Overall, it was the better team that won, even though I was not completely satisfied with the final 15 minutes of the game as we sat back in our defence.”

However, Ngorongoro of Tanzania coach, John Simkoko, insisted they have not given up hope and said they would battle harder in the return match in Nigeria in a fortnight.

“Nigeria were the better team and deserved to win. But the battle is not over yet, as we will come prepared to Nigeria,’’ he said.

The second leg of the fixture will hold in Nigeria in two weeks time.(NAN)

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