Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets have been knocked out in the Round of 16 of the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup after a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands at the Estádio Olímpico Pedro Ludovico in Brazil on Wednesday.
Dutch forward Sontje Hansen scored all three of his side’s goals to condemn five-time winners to defeat in the match played in the early hours of Wednesday.
Olakunle Olusegun had briefly drawn the Golden Eaglets level in the 12th minute before Hansen added to his 4th-minute opener with a 12th-minute strike and completed his hat-trick from the spot in the 80th minute after Ferdinand Ikenna had handled in the box.
The Netherlands who qualified to the knockouts as one of the four best third-placed teams in the group stage progress to the quarterfinal where they’ll play the winner of Paraguay and Argentina who play on Thursday.
For Nigeria, thoughts of a record-extending sixth crown would have to wait for a couple more years at least but the manner of the defeat was all too predictable as the team were let down by dubious defending for the umpteenth time in the tournament.
Manu Garba’s side had failed to keep a clean sheet in the tournament coming into this fixture and had conceded at least two goals in each of their three group games including the first goal in two of the games.
With such dire a defensive record, one would imagine that a large chunk of time spent on the training ground prior to the game would have been dedicated to basic defensive drills but if Manu Garba had paid any extra attention to what was clearly a problem, it certainly wasn’t evident by what transpired on the pitch as old faultlines appeared and longrunning defensive frailties were again exposed by the Dutch.
The Golden Eaglets have made an unhealthy habit of conceding early in their games and they were at it again as Sontje Hansen took advantage of some lax marking to score the opener in the fourth minute.
Nigeria, used to chasing games in this tournament replied seven minutes later through Olakunle Olusegun’s curling effort which beat the Dutch goalie in the 12th minute.
The Golden Eaglets were then let down by sloppy defending, halfheartedly clearing a loose ball from a freekick which fell to Hansen at the edge of the box, and he let fly a rasping drive that goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu had no answer to.
Oluwatimilehin Adeniyi got a poor touch on the ball from Ibrahim Sa’id’s cross in the 22nd minute and a stinging Sa’id shot was parried by the Dutch goalie 11 minutes later.
In the second half, Charles Etim’s good shot in the 54th minute only rattled the Dutch goalkeeper, and four minutes later, Akinkunmi Amoo should have done better when he had only the opposing goalkeeper to beat.
Coach Manu Garba introduced Divine Nwachukwu and Ibraheem Jabaar while withdrawing Peter Olawale and Sa’id, but Nigeria could find no way back into the game in the manner they did against Hungary and Ecuador in their first two matches.
Rather, 11 minutes from time, the Video Assistant Referee spotted a handball by Clement Ikenna as Nigeria defended another Dutch onslaught, and Hansen swept the ball past Jinadu for Netherlands’ third goal.