By James Agberebi:
Nigeria’s Super Sand Eagles recorded their first win of the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup by beating Mexico 5-4 after extra-time in Group B on Saturday night in the Bahamas.
A brace from Abu Azeez, and a goal each from Victor Tale, Ogbonna Emeka and Godspower Igudia secured the Sand Eagles’ first win since the 2011 edition.
The win takes the Sand Eagles to third in the table on two points. The Nigerians lost their opening game 12-6 to Italy on Thursday night.
Following the outcome of the game between the Sand Eagles and Mexico which went into extra-time, Italy who had earlier beaten Iran 5-4 qualified for the quarter-finals.
A win for the Sand Eagles in their final group game against Iran on Monday will see them also qualify for the quarter-finals.
Mexico’s early pressure eventually yielded dividends as they took a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute of the first period through Senor Villa.
At the start of the second period Mexico continued to dominate but could not get past Dami Paul in goal for the Sand Eagles.
Angel Rodriguez made it 2-0 for Mexico with a header which Paul failed to keep out.
But right from the kick-off Ogbonna Emeka made it 2-1 with a superb strike.
Mexico extended their lead over the Super Sand Eagles to 3-1 from a penalty kick thanks to skipper Jose Maldonado.
Abu brought the Sand Eagles back in the game on eight minutes of the second period with a long range effort which flew past the Mexican keeper.
In the third and final period Mexico almost extended their lead but the Sand Eagles had Paul to thank following his point blank save.
Paul was called into action and once again made a brilliant save.
In the closing stages Tale had a chance to draw the Sand Eagles level only to shot his effort over the bar.
But with two minutes left, Tale made it 3-3 from a free-kick following a handball by a Mexican.
The Mexicans almost won it at the death but once again Paul pulled off a brilliant save.
After both teams failed to find the winner, the game went into extra time and the Sand Eagles went in front for the first time through Godspower Igudia in the first minute to make it 4-3.
Mexico scored with a minute left as Juan Mosco slammed home from a rebound to tie the game at 4-4.
And when it looked like the game was heading for penalties, Abu sealed the win for Sand Eagles to end the game 5-4.