Nigeria’s Flying Eagles got their 2011 African Youth Championship campaign off to a great start, defeating rivals Ghana 2-1 in their opening Group B game at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto.
The battle of the two West African teams was a real battle of attrition on a difficult pitch – not only was it heavy from the large amount of rain in recent days, it was also bumpy and cut-up from having three successive games on it over the weekend.
Nonetheless, John Obuh’s team edged the match thanks to a brace from striker Innocent Nwofor, though his second goal was a complete fluke.
Nigeria started better, with star attacker Ahmed Musa looking dangerous down the right flank, while the lanky Nwofor posed a troubling aerial threat.
The Flying Eagles deservedly took the lead in the 17th minute, taking advantage of some poor defending from their Ghanaian counterparts.
A cross from the right flank was flicked-on by Abdul Ajagun and Innocent Nwofor was able to fire the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper James Acheampong to make it 1-0.
The goal seemed to spur the Black Satellites into action and they got back on level terms in the 32nd minute. Right-back Richmond Nketiah crossed to the near post from a corner kick and Kwame Nsor scored with a header.
The score remained 1-1 up to half time, but Nsor should have put Ghana ahead just a few minutes before the interval, skewing a shot wide off the target after Nigeria had failed to clear a straightforward free kick.
Both teams had their chances to add to the score in the second half but it took until the 82nd minute for the deadlock to be broken.
Nwofor 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, but the ball looped over a helpless Acheampong and found the back of the net.