BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
The Nigerian Golden Eaglets did not only make a dramatic turn-around on Saturday in Brazil in their match with Hungary, winning 4-2, they reaffirmed their tradition of not losing opening game in the tournament that is in its 18th edition.
Nigerian teams have featured in 11 editions and had never lost an opening game. The worse opening results were the 1-1 with the then Soviet Union at Canada ’87 and 3-3 with Germany at the Nigeria 2009 edition.
More than that, the Nigerian sides, Sports Village Square can affirm, feature prominently in goal scoring as the second leading scorers in the annals of the tournament despite having missed out in seven editions.
When Samson Tijani scored from the penalty spot on Saturday in the match against Hungary, it was Nigeria’s 150th goal since in the opening one by Bella Momoh whose 67th minute goal against Italy on July 31, 1985 in Dalian, China gave Nigeria a 1-0 win.
In total, Nigeria’s overall has reached 153 goals. A Nigerian also scored one of the milestone goals. When Eze Chidera notched in Nigeria’s third goal in the 3-0 defeat of Sweden in 2013, it was the 1,700th goal of the tournament since inception in 1985.
Such impressive showing on the goal chart also contributed to Nigeria’s being the number two in the all-time ranking among 82 nations to have ever featured in the competition.