Nigeria crowned Under-17 World Cup champions

West African hot-shots beat defending champions Mexico 3-0 in the tournament final in Abu Dhabi.

    Nigeria crowned Under-17 World Cup champions
    Iheanacho scored for Nigeria in the Under-17 World Cup final [AFP]

    Nigeria are celebrating after they won the Under-17 World Cup for a record fourth time.

    The beat defending champions Mexico 3-0 in the final in Abu Dhabi on Friday. 

    Nigeria went ahead in the ninth minute through Erick Aguirre's own goal before Kelechi Iheanacho doubled the lead in the 56th.

    Nigeria captain Musa Muhammed scored from a free kick in the 81st minute to complete the victory as the country surpassed Brazil's three titles at the U17 level.

    In what was a rematch of Nigeria's 6-1 win in the opening Group F match, Mexico had the better chances early.

    Alejandro Diaz's close-range effort was just wide of the target and minutes later Nigeria goalkeeper Dele Alampasu tipped Ivan Ochoa's header over the bar.

    However, Nigeria then went on a counterattack and Musa Yahaha's shot deflected off Aguirre and past Mexico goalkeeper Raul Gudino.

    The remainder of the opening half was played at a frenetic pace and saw both sides squander opportunities. Alampasu made another good save in the 30th minute from Ulises Jaimes' header after a lovely ball from Mexico captain Ulises Rivas.

    Swedes clinch third place

    For Nigeria, Awoniyi's strike hit the side of the net in the 37th minute, while Yahaha's long-range effort struck the crossbar just before half-time.

    Both teams threatened in the opening stages of the second half, and Nigeria doubled its lead when Iheanacho took advantage of Gudino's poor attempt to clear the ball.

    Mexico continued to attack and could have scored when Aguirre found Ochoa in space. But his header from right in front of goal was wide of the target.

    The West Africans sealed the victory when Muhammed curled a free kick from the edge of the penalty box over the wall and past the outstretched arms of Gudino in the 81st minute.

    Their success follows that of the country's senior team, the Super Eagles, who won the Africa Cup of Nations title this year.

    Earlier, Sweden clinched third place after beating Argentina 4-1, thanks to Valmir Berisha's hat trick. Carlos Strandberg also scored for Sweden, while Lucio Campagnucci found the net for Argentina.

    "There's a lot of feelings right now, Sweden coach Roland Larsson said.

    "This is my last game with this team, so this is the perfect present for me.

    "This is a sensation for Swedish football; no one would believe we could do this."

    Iheanacho was crowned Golden Ball winner for best player, while Sweden's Berisha earned the Golden Shoe award for most goals with seven.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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