New Zealand ends Flying Eagles’ Suwon Cup dreams

New Zealand ends Flying Eagles’ Suwon Cup dreams

Under-20 team, the Flying Eagles, on Tuesday suffered a shock 4-3
defeat at the hands of the Junior All Whites of New Zealand at the
Suwon U-20 Cup.

It was the first
loss at the four-nation tournament for the Flying Eagles and ended
their hopes of claiming top prize at the tourney which came to a close
yesterday in South Korea.

John Obuh’s side
had earlier beaten hosts South Korea 1-0 in their opening match of the
tourney before pulling off a 2-2 draw with Uruguay over the weekend.

For their part, the
Junior All Whites began their quest at the Suwon Cup with a 1-0 loss to
Uruguay before succumbing by the same score line to South Korea, and
were expected to follow a similar path against the Flying Eagles in the
encounter played in the early hours of Tuesday, Nigerian time.

And the Junior All
Whites appeared to play along with the laid down script when Uche
Nwofor struck from 25 meters out to put the Flying Eagles ahead after
just 18 minutes on the clock.

But New Zealand
clawed their way back to level terms when Cameron Lindsay curled an
equaliser in from the edge of the box, just minutes after Dakota Lucas
failed to convert from close range.

The Flying Eagles
then had two opportunities to restore their lead before the end of the
first half but were denied, first by New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan
Marinovic and then by the offside flag.

But 15 minutes into
the second half, the Junior All Whites struck through captain Nick
Branch who volleyed a Marco Rojas free kick past the helpless Danjuma

The lead was short lived as quick fire goals to Nigeria earned the Flying Eagles a 3-2 lead with 25 minutes left.


But two goals
within the space of seven minutes, the second as a result of a poor
clearance by the Nigerian goalkeeper, saw the Junior All Whites
claiming their first win of the tournament which delighted their coach,
Chris Milicich.

“Today was very
pleasing for no other reason than we’re learning how to win,” said
Milicich. “We’ve had two really close results and in this one we’ve
come back twice to get the result.

He added: “This is
a team that beat Korea, drew with Uruguay and were trying to win the
tournament. They tried to beat us with everything they had. They are
African champions and we stood toe to toe with them and came out on the
right side of the ledger.”

The Suwon Cup
served as a preparatory tournament for all four teams who will later in
the year take part at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.

The Nigerian team is expected back in the country on Thursday and
will thereafter observe a two-week break before commencing preparations
for the World Cup where they will come up against Guatemala, Croatia
and Saudi Arabia in Group D.

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