The Nigerian team defeated Canada 37-31 yesterday to finish 23rd at the IHF Men’s Youth World Championship in Macedonia with the coach Emeka Nnamani likening the victory to winning the tournament.
Canada and Nigeria had depleted squads, and both had one last chance to end their debut IHF Men’s Youth World Championship with a win going into the 23/24 placement match.
In the end, Nigeria prevailed by six goals thanks to a strong goalkeeping performance and effective attack.
Before this game, Nigeria’s key player – right back Faruk Yusuf – had already boarded a plane back
home to join up with the senior team who are departing later today for the All Africa Games in
However, news broke just before this match that he had left Skopje having found a European club with
Macedonian side RK Butel Skopje announcing that the 15-year-old had signed terms with them to play from
Yusuf’s departure did not affect the 13-man Nigerian team as it won the first half 19-17. Captain
Ibrahim Dikko made things happen from the middle with six goals, alongside the tall Joseph Gbawuan (six goals), Ebinatei Ekpodio (6) and Hakeem Salami (5).
Backing them up were goalkeepers Abbas Mohammed and Obinna Okwor who finished with a total of 15 saves
as Canada’s attack, missing the replaced Mamadu Barri, could only convert just over 50 percent of
their chances, led by Cazy de Chrusley Gaspard.
“We are happy that after losing six matches we managed to close our debut in a big international competition with a win,” said Dikko to wch2019championship.com.mk. “We gave our best.”
Nnanami was even happier, knowing the significance of the victory. “This victory for us is like winning the championship,” he said. “It is a big deal for us as it would not be good for Nigeria if we came home without a win.”