Head coach Manu Garba
Senator Liyel Imoke, the Executive Governor of Cross River State has been given the plaudits by the Golden Eaglets following their 5-0 defeat of Junior Wasps of Rwanda in an international friendly match played at the U.J Esuene Sports Stadium in Calabar.
The match was the Eaglets’ high profile match since they started camping in Calabar at the instance of Governor Imoke, who was ably represented Friday by Barrister Efiok Cohbam, the Deputy Governor as the special guest of honour.
“We are dedicating this victory to His Excellency, Governor Liyel Imoke because he’s our foremost supporter,” Head coach Manu Garba said after the game.
“The Governor as well as the people of Cross River State gave us the enabling environment for our camping and without adequate preparation; we would not be where we are today.
“Though he was unavoidably absent at the match against Rwanda today but he was represented by the Deputy Governor and we were left with no choice than to win this match.
“We want to use this opportunity to thank the Governor, the good people of Cross River State and the generality of Nigerians who have been supporting us with their prayers. We have not won anything yet rather we would strive to do our best to achieve our objectives on the long run,” Manu stated.
Clearly, the Golden Eaglets left nobody in doubt about their objectives in this international friendly against Rwanda with the manner they approached the game after they took the mandatory kick off.
The Golden Eaglets enjoyed greater possession of the ball in the early parts of the game but failed to convert some clear cut-out chances that came their way even as the Junior Wasps stood stoutly at the back.
But the spectators did not have to wait too long as the Golden Eaglets finally got the curtain raiser in the 18th minute through Kelechi Iheanacho, the former Under-15 star who slotted the ball behind Kimenyi Yves in goal for Rwanda.
Star midfielder, Alhassan Ibrahim who was nicknamed ‘The New Kanu’ by the Honourable Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi during the screening of players in March, scored a brace in the 35th and 46th minute of the match. The second goal, which came barely after the start of the second half, was a beauty in execution with as many as five players passing the ball for Ibrahim to finish off.
That goal killed off the spirit of the hitherto adventurous Rwandans as the Golden Eaglets piled up more pressures.
Two second half substitutes, Oluwaseun Jegede and Umar Ahmed added their names on the scorers’ sheet to the delight of the highly excited spectators.
Both coach Manu as well as his counterpart from Rwanda, coach Richard Tardy commended the efforts of both teams since it was the first time they are playing a match of such magnitude even as they promised to retool their teams for their second fixture slated for 11am on Sunday at the U. J Esuene Stadium.