Nigeria U23 striker Junior Ajayi
Friday Mar 25, 2016. 10:56
Delighted Nigeria U23 coach Fatai Amoo has singled out Belgium-based Imoh Ezekiel and Sodiq Popoola for special praise after they defeated Rio Olympics hosts Brazil in a friendly Friday morning.
"No doubt, our goalkeeper (Emmanuel Daniel) kept us in the game with a number of great saves before he was substituted. Even the substitute (Yusuf Mohammed) also did his bit. All in all, some players like Ezekiel Imoh and Sodiq Popoola were outstanding and I am happy for the team," remarked Amoo.
"The boys did a great job if you recall that 80 percent of the boys we brought here were just meeting one another for the first time, and we needed to see all of them in match situation.
“I’m happy we have seen them and this is hoping that as we play more friendlies, we would discover more players that will compete for jerseys before the Olympics proper.”
Amoo admitted that his boys struggled to contain the hosts in the first half as they launched their attack from the left wing, but the team was able to redress that in the second half.
"The first half was very difficult for us, but then it is expected, having in mind that we scored an early goal and as such it was expected they would come all out against us to get the equalizer, but I must give my boys a lot of credit for holding their own,” he said.
Brazil, who are yet to win Olympics football gold, created the better chances, but they either failed to put them away or goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel and his defence were resolute in keeping them out.
Ubong Ekpai fired the match winner for Nigeria off a rebound after just four minutes, when Imoh, who was a thorn in the flesh of the Brazilians went past his marker and his resultant pull out saw Popoola hitting a shot that rebounded for Ekpai to score.
Nigeria made four changes, which saw Victor Osimhen come in for Taiwo Awoniyi, Junior Ajayi for Ekpai, Amaefule Chizoba for Keigo and Sincere Seth for Ovbokha.