Nigeria's U-20 team, the Flying Eagles, got their campaign at the 2011 Africa Youth Championships (AYC) off to a winning start as they defeated the reigning world and African champions, the Black Satellites of Ghana, by 2-1.
Two strikes from Enugu Rangers forward, Uche Nwofor, ensured Nigeria's first victory over Ghana. The Black Satellites had recorded a hat trick of wins in the previous meetings between both teams at the AYC.
The Flying Eagles started the stronger of the two teams, with star attacker Ahmed Musa, who only joined the team on Sunday evening from Holland, posing so much threat to the Ghanaian defence.
After much incursion into the Ghanaian deeper half, the Flying Eagles deservedly took the lead in the 17th minute, taking advantage of poor defending by their opponents.
A cross from the right flank was flicked-on by Abdul Ajagun to Uche Nwofor who fired the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper James Achampong to make it 1-0.
The goal seemed to spur the Black Satellites into action as they got back on level terms in the 32nd minute. Right-back Richmond Nketiah crossed to the near post from a corner kick which Kwame Nsor scored with a header.
With the first half ending even, both teams resumed for the second half seeking another goal that would guarantee the three points in the testy opening encounter.
Both teams had their chances to change the scoreline in the second half but it wasn't until the 82nd minute that the deadlock was broken.
Nwofor again found himself in space on the right flank and looked to be lining up a cross; the ball bobbled up off the pitch, causing the attacker to mis-time his kick, while the ball looped over a helpless Achampong and found its way to the back of the Ghanaian net.
At the end of the game the happier of the coaches, expectedly, was John Obuh who was thrilled by the important opening day win over Ghana. "I am happy to have won the opening game, especially against a strong team like Ghana. We have done well. Congratulations to my boys, and thank God," declared Obuh.
Ghana coach, Orlando Wellington, said he is still optimistic that his side would cruise through the group phase with six points in their next two matches to grab one of the two slots for the semi-finals, and also for the World Cup in Columbia. "My team lost because of tactical indiscipline on the part of my players. We will go home and fix the problem so that we can win the next two games and qualify for the next round.
Nigeria, now atop Group B, will be meeting the Young Lions of Cameroon on Thursday, April 21. The Young Lions had defeated Gambia 1-0. Ghana will be meeting Gambia on the same day.