Golden Eaglets’ Assistant Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, has expressed joy at his team’s 5-1 spanking of Diamond Stars Academy FC in a friendly at St Patrick’s College, Ikot Ansa, Calabar on Wednesday.
The national U-17 team is currently camped in Calabar, ahead of the 2013 CAF U-17 qualifier against Niger Republic in September, this year. The friendly match against Diamond Stars was the Eaglets’ first training match since resumption last week in Calabar, for their second closed camping.
Diamond Stars won the Cross River State Governor’s Cup in 2010. Amuneke said on Wednesday after the friendly that although the match, against a grassroots team, was part of other friendlies lined up to fine-tune the Eaglets for the qualifier.
“It is about time the players begin to assume responsibilities on the pitch and we are encouraged that they are executing some of the things we are teaching them. This is our first game but the players are gradually getting back into their groove which is a good thing to see,’’ Amuneke, the 1994 African Footballer of the Year, said.
Kelechi Iheanacho was easily the man-of-the-match, which was played under the rain. Iheanacho combined beautifully with Isaac Success in the attack as the Eaglets scored their opening goal through Ifeanyi Matthew in the 12th minute, while Ahmed Umar made it two in the 27th minute.
Undaunted, Diamond Stars later reduced the tally through a header by Peter Hen in the 41st minute to end the first half. In the second half, Diamond Stars squandered another opportunity of scoring an equalizer almost immediately after losing a penalty.
Eaglets’ Wilfred Ndidi headed home a pin-point corner kick from Iheanacho in the 57th minute, while Success scored the fourth off a pass from Friday Njengo in the 60th minute.
Both Gilmond Lukman of Stoke City and Oluwaseun Jegede of Aspire Academy in Qatar came in as replacements for Umar and Iheanacho respectively, in the dying minutes of the second half.
Substitute Jegede completed the routing as he scrambled the ball into the net few minutes towards regulation time, to end the match at 5-1 in favour of Golden Eaglets. FIFA Grade 1 Referee, Akwa Robbe, took charge of the match.