By Nurudeen Obalola:
The Flying Eagles got their first three points of the New Zealand 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup on Thursday morning with an emphatic 4-0 destruction of North Korea.
Two goals from Godwin Saviour and one each from Kingsley Sokari and substitute Isaac Success, all in the second half, sealed an eventually comfortable win for the Nigerian youngsters.
Having lost their opening Group E match to Brazil, the Flying Eagles needed to beat North Korea to stay in contention, but it was not easy to break down the Asians in the first half, though they had lost their first match 5-1 to Hungary.
Coach Manu Garba made several changes to his starting line-up, dropping Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho, Granada’s Success and Tottenham’s Musa Yahaya to the bench in an attempt to get some balance into his team.
Enyimba midfieler Sokari also started the game, unlike the Brazil match when he came off the bench.
The changes worked as Nigeria created chance after chance in the first half, but North Korea goalkeeper Jong Hun smothered everything thrown at him, preventing the hard-working target man Taiwo Awoniyi from getting on the score sheet. Nigeria were also unlucky in that first half, captain Musa Muhammed’s long range strike hitting the the post with Hun beaten.
But the goals did come after the break, Saviour saving his team’s blushes with a close range header in the 48th minute after Hun misjudged a Muhammed cross following good work from Awoniyi.
Three minutes later it was 2-0, Saviour again tapping home after the impressive Awoniyi barged through the Korean defence and laid it on a plate for his teammate.
It was game over in the 71st minute when Sokari’s rocket from about 25 yards rifled into the net for Nigeria’s third, while Success put a gloss on the score line with the fourth goal with 10 minutes left on the clock following more good work from man of the match Awoniyi.
Nigeria’s final group match is against Hungary on Sunday.