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Nigeria Wins FIFA U-17 World Cup 2015

Nigeria's Golden Eaglets celebrating their 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup triumph
Nigeria celebrating their FIFA U-17 World Cup triumph

The concluding day of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 saw Nigeria live up to their tag of pre-tournament favourites by overcoming a spirited Mali side 2-0 in the final, thereby retaining the crown they secured so impressively two years ago in the United Arab Emirates. Belgium had earlier finished third, after seeing off Mexico in a pulsating opening game.

The showpiece match played out in the way many observers had predicted, partly because of the level of familiarity between the two teams, who both played starring roles at the 2015 CAF African U-17 Championship, where the Nigerians finished fourth and the Malians emerged victorious.

In Vina del Mar on Sunday, however, the Golden Eaglets’ attacking prowess eventually made the difference, as two goals in three second-half minutes sealed the destination of the trophy.

In doing so, the Nigerians claimed the fifth U-17 World Cup crown, following on from their previous successes at China 1985, Japan 1993, Korea Republic 2007 and UAE 2013. In addition, they finished as runners-up at Canada 1987, Trinidad and Tobago 2001 and Nigeria 2009.

Belgium, meanwhile, earned a place on the podium by defeating Mexico 3-2 in an entertaining preamble to the main event. Sprightly forward Dante Vanzeir was the man who propelled Les Diables Rouges to a best-ever finish at a FIFA tournament, setting up the opener and scoring their second and third goals. That decisive third strike came in stoppage time, when Belgium were down to ten men and the match appeared on the verge of a penalty shoot-out.

Goal of the day

Mali 0-1 Nigeria, Victor Osimhen (56)
With the score locked at 0-0, midfielder Chinedu Madueke drove down the right and from just inside the box sent in a low cross for forward Victor Osimhen, who was lurking unmarked in the middle. The Nigerian No9, as he has done throughout the competition, did not hesitate for a second and smashed the ball first-time past adidas Golden Glove winner Samuel Diarra to set Nigeria on their way to glory.

Memorable moments

Individual brilliance

Although they retained the U-17 World Cup as a team, Nigeria were also well represented among the individual awards. Their captain, Kelechi Nwakali, picked up the adidas Golden Ball and the adidas Bronze Boot, while ace marksman Victor Osimhen pocketed the adidas Golden Boot and adidas Silver Ball.

Reputable runners-up

Mali’s impressive crop of players achieved much more than a historic runners-up spot at a FIFA event. Not only did they receive the acclaim of the Chilean fans, who supported them during the match and gave them a standing ovation after the final whistle, but their efforts were also recognised by the Nigerian players, who formed a guard of honour when their defeated opponents went up to collect their runners-up medals. In addition, Samuel Diarra won the adidas Golden Glove award and attacker Aly Malle earned the adidas Bronze Ball.

Bouncing back

Dante Vanzeir missed out on the UEFA European U-17 Championship with a serious knee injury, and had not managed to notch a goal at Chile 2015 until today. The skilful forward put all that behind him in style against Mexico, producing an excellent assist and two fine goals that ensured Belgium of third place in a FIFA tournament for the first time. Cue exuberant celebrations from the Belgian players, which involved launching coach Bob Browaeys skywards.

Song of sorrow

During the first half of the play-off for third place, around 100 Mexican supporters, situated behind the goal that El Tri were attacking, delighted the rest of the fans present at the Estadio Sausalito with an a cappella version of the popular Mexican song, Cielito lindo. The applause the boisterous group received was highly deserved, as were the proud cheers they themselves gave their young heroes at the end of the match, despite the loss to Belgium.

The stat

10 – The number of goals scored by Victor Osimhen for the Golden Eaglets at Chile 2015, a tournament tally that sends the talented Nigerian to the top of the all-time top scorer list. The lethal striker, who found the net in all seven of his nation’s encounters in South America, now moves one ahead of the previous record of 9, jointly held by Ivoirian Souleymane Coulibaly (2011) and Frenchman Florent Sinama Pongolle (2001)

The words
“We have worked very hard for this success and we hope to continue. The players will go home now but their journey is not over yet. I have football in my blood, as a player and as a coach. This is what I want to pass to my players.” – Emmanuel Amuneke, Nigeria coach
With an outstanding team packed with talented players, Nigeria successfully defended their crown at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015. Furthermore, the west Africans took centre stage when it came to the individual honours too.

Top scorer Victor Osimhen and captain Kelechi Nwakali both made their mark on the competition, and after winning the adidas Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, the latter followed in the footsteps of Cesc Fabregas and Toni Kroos, who are now key members of the senior sides with their respective national teams. Osimhen set a new U-17 World Cup goalscoring record, while Mali’s Samuel Diarra and Ecuador’s example of Fair Play were also recognised in the honour’s list established and overseen by FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG).

Read on to find out who else is travelling home with extra silverware in their luggage.

Kelechi Nwakali posing with his Golden ball Award at FIFA U-17 World Cup 2015
Kelechi Nwakali posing with his Golden ball Award

adidas Golden Ball: Kelechi Nwakali (Nigeria)

The captain of the Golden Eaglets was included in Nigeria’s provisional squad ahead of the 2013 edition, but was not named in the final party that went on to win the title. Here, however, the playmaker was the first to lift the trophy aloft. Coach Emmanuel Amuneke right-hand man out on the pitch, he shouldered responsibility and kept a cool head in difficult moments. He scored three goals, including two penalties, and provided a further three assists, a haul that was also brought him the adidas Bronze Boot.

adidas Silver Ball: Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)

Even before the tournament kicked off in Chile Osimhen was touted as a favourite to win the adidas Golden Ball, having scored 39 goals in 71 outings for his country at that point, and finished as top scorer at the U-17 African Championship in March. The striker, who names Côte d’Ivoire forward Didier Drogba as his role model, more than lived up to expectations in Chile after finding the net in all seven games at the competition. Osimhen put his side 1-0 up on four occasions and his effort in the final – his tenth goal overall – set a new tournament record, beating the previous best-mark set by Côte d’Ivoire’s Souleymane Coulibaly in 2011 and France’s Florent Sinama Pongolle in 2001. Osimhen duly finished as top scorer in South America, and would doubtless not begrudge his team captain, of all players, pipping him to what would have been a second golden award.

adidas Bronze Ball: Aly Malle (Mali)

Alongside Boubacar Traore, Sekou Koita and Sidiki Maiga, Malle formed part of an impressive attacking line-up that put opponents under pressure right from the off. Operating as a nominal striker, the No9 often dropped deep to pick up the ball and brought his team-mates into the game on countless occasions.

Victor Osimhen and captain Kelechi Nwakali with their FIFA U-17 2015 Awards
Victor Osimhen and captain Kelechi Nwakali with their Awards

adidas Golden Boot: Victor Osimhen (Nigeria/10 goals, 2 assists)

adidas Silver Boot: Johannes Eggestein (Germany/4 goals, 0 assists)

Eggestein’s best performances for Germany came in the group stage, where he found the target four times in three matches to go joint-top of the scorers’ chart alongside Osimhen after the first phase of the tournament. Although the striker, who plays for Bundesliga club Werder Bremen, was unable to add to his tally after Germany were eliminated by Croatia in the Round of 16, he still did enough to win the adidas Silver Boot. “My strengths are my ability to anticipate a pass and my versatility,” Eggestein said in an interview with His self-analysis is backed up by the statistics: he scored twice with his left foot, once with his right and once with his head.

adidas Bronze Boot: Kelechi Nwakali (Nigeria/3 goals, 3 assists)

adidas Golden Glove: Samuel Diarra (Mali)

For the fourth time in tournament history, the best goalkeeper of the finals was presented with an award. Following Benjamin Siegrist (Switzerland, 2009), Jonathan Cubero (Uruguay, 2011) and Dele Alampasu (Nigeria, 2013), this time the winner was Samuel Diarra, who reached the final with African champions Mali and routinely frustrated opposition strikers with some spectacular saves. The custodian dazzled in South America with his incredible reflexes and command of his penalty area, while he conceded fewer goals than any other goalkeeper at these finals, letting in just four in seven games.

FIFA Fair Play Award: Ecuador

In 1995 Ecuador posted their best achievement at an U-17 World Cup by reaching the quarter-finals on home soil. Now, 20 years on, the latest crop of players equalled that feat in Chile, and did so while winning over the hearts of the fans. In their five games at the tournament, the South Americans only committed 69 fouls, collected just four yellow cards and had one sending off for a second bookable offence, making coach Jose Rodriguez’s charges worthy winners of the FIFA Fair Play Award. Alongside a trophy, medals and a certificate, the Ecuadorian FA will also receive prize money of $10,000 USD, which can only used for football equipment for youth teams.

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Source: FIFA

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