Thriller in Dar Opens U17 AFCON

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar April 15, 2019 19:16

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Thriller in Dar Opens U17 AFCON

By Satish Sekar at Dar Es Salaam’s National Stadium © Satish Sekar (April 14th 2019)

Goals Galore!

Tanzania’s Under-17 AFCON got off to astonishing start in the National Stadium, Dar Es Salaam. A topsy-turvy match ended 5-4 to Nigeria with leads changing hands throughout. After profligate finishing, Wisdom Ubani bagged a brace, a feat matched by the hosts’ Edmund John.

Olatomi Olaniyan opened the scoring after 20 minutes. Tanzania rapidly equalised through Edmund John, before Ubani restored Nigeria’s lead. Akinkunmi Amoo added to Nigeria’s lead – they led 3-1 at half-time. An incredible 5-minute spell began after 51 minutes. It started with a speculative Kelvin John shot from just outside the area.

Suleman Shaibu should never have been beaten in that fashion. Then, two penalties were given in quick succession. The first was clear – the second harsh. Both were converted.

Tanzania had come from 3-1 down to lead 4-3, but tactical naïvete cost the hosts dear. The team tired and coach, Oscar Mirambo, failed to make changes until too late. Ubani equalised, and finally the pick of the nine came from substitute Ibraheem Jabaar, whose turn and shot into the top corner left Mwinyi Yahya unable to do anything but admire.

Nigeria Take Control

Olatomi Olaniyan pounced after 20 minutes to put Nigeria ahead. The NON midfielder scored easily as Yahya could only parry Ubani’s shot to his right. Olaniyan followed up to score easily, but Nigeria’s lead lasted just a minute. Kelvin John reached the goal-line on the left of the area before squaring it for Edmund John to equalise from close-range.

For the best part of half an hour Yahya seemed to be having a personal battle to prevent Ubani finding his way onto the score-sheet.

In just over ten minutes Yahya saved two point blank efforts by Ubani – he should not have been allowed to make the saves – and a 30-yard free-kick from the left dipped just over.

Marginally before the drinks break, Olaniyan put Ubani through on the right of the area and the Giant Brillers forward finally netted across Yahya to restore Nigeria’s lead. Less than ten minutes before the scheduled half time break Akinkunmi Amoo danced past the keeper to tap in Nigeria’s third. It was made by Samson Tijani’s pass after his free-kick was blocked, but rebounded back to Nigeria’s skipper.

It could have been even worse as Amoo turned on the edge of the area to curl it in, but he was penalised by Senegalese referee Issa Sy. The hosts came out all guns blazing in the second half. Kelvin John had an assist for Edmund’s first and scored Tanzania’s second from outside the area, but Shaibu should never have allowed himself to be beaten from that distance, around 30 yards.

Then came the penalties. The first was a stone-wall penalty as Clement Ikenna tripped Ally Rutibinga. The protests were rightly in vain, ut Tanzanian skipper Morice Abraham was very fortunate, as his penalty hit the post to Shaibu’s left bounced across the goal, hit the keepers back and went in – a harsh own goal.

Shortly afterwards Tanzania’s break was curtailed when a shot by substitute, Edson Mshirakandi was blocked by the prone Mayowa Abayomi. It hit his arm and Sy awarded a second penalty. It was confidently dispatched by Edmund John to complete his brace.

But the remarkable come-back should never have started. Within 5 minutes of the restart, Olusegun Okunkunle ought to have put Nigeria out of sight, but inexplicably his shot opportunity turned into a wasted cross. The job seemingly done, Tanzania sat back. The tired legs were not replaced quickly enough, and Nigeria clawed their way back into the match.

Ubani claimed his second of the evening from close range to equalise after 71 minutes. With just over ten minutes remaining substitute Ibraheem Jabaar scored the pick of the goals curling it into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Cars and Cash and Free Entry

Despite the offer of cars and cash if they progress to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, Tanzania came up short in the opening match. Nigeria should have opened the scoring within a minute. Wisdom Ubani, could not beat Tanzanian keeper Mwinyi Yahya from point blank range. It was a fine save at the expense of a corner, but the Giant Brillers forward should not have allowed Yahya any chance.

Ubani didn’t learn his lesson. After a penalty appeal by Kelvin John was turned down, Ubani failed again. Put through on the left of the area by Ogaga Oduko, Ubani once again failed to beat the keeper from close range. He made it a hat-trick of failed attempts with 30-yard freekick from the left which just cleared the bar after 11 minutes. Despite eventually bagging a brace, it was a disappointing return.

Meanwhile, Tanzanian Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, got a big cheer when he promised free entry to fans for future matches in the two-week long tournament, but that was eclipsed when Tanzania took the lead. In added time the referee allowed Nigeria to play on while Amoo was down injured, but controversially stopped play after Nigeria conceded possession. The chance evaporated, but Mirambo chose to stress fair play, and made no complaint.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar April 15, 2019 19:16