THE Nigerian Under-20 men’s national team, the Flying Eagles, fell 2-0 to their Portuguese counterparts in continuation of the Copa de la Republica in Panama City on Wednesday.
This was the third game in succession that the Nigerians have failed to score and coach John Obuh admitted that it was becoming a cause for serious concern.
“The problem was that we again did not utilise the chances we created especially in the first half, where we ought to have scored at least two goals,” said Obuh.
“Instead they got their own chances and they took them.”
Obuh started out with mostly the squad players and said it was an experiment that paid off.
“We used this game to experiment a few things and I was glad I saw those things I was looking for,” he revealed.
Gbenga Arokoyo shone in the heart of the defence while there was a great improvement in the overall play of the Nigerian U-20 team as they sent passes across the pitch with ease and confidence and attacked with a lot more urgency especially after they fell behind.
Portugal were led by giant central defender Roderick Miranda, who missed the first clash between the two countries as his club Benfica insisted he be part of their pre-season training.
Last Wednesday, Nigeria and Portugal played out a 0-0 draw in Lisbon as part of the teams’ build-up to the Under20 World Cup in Colombia, which kicks off next week.
Edafe Egbedi threw away the biggest chance of this rematch on 36 minutes when he lobbed the ball over the bar with only an empty net facing him.
The Flying Eagles effected attacking changes by the restart as Ahmed Musa and Bright Ejike came on for Egbedi and Chidi Osuchukwu.
But it was two-goal hero Nelson Oliveira, who threatened severally before he finally made hay in the 55th minute when he slotted past onrushing skipper and goalkeeper Danjuma Paul following a counter-attack after a Chimezie Mbah’s mistake in the Portugal half of the pitch.
Nigeria attacked in search of an equaliser as Sani Emmanuel and Terna Suswam were also introduced into the fray.
However, just when it looked like the African champions could get something out of this contest, Oliveira struck again in the 67th minute when he headed home off a corner.
Musa went close with a superb solo run in the 78th minute and another substitute, Uche Nwofor, came very close but his powerful shot from inside the box went wide.
Hosts, Panama forced Mexico to a 1-1 draw in the second game of the night at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez to leave Nigeria pointless and bottom of the four-nation tournament preparatory to the World Cup in Colombia.