Friday, 1 November 2019

FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019: Botic brace bolsters Joeys' last-16 hopes

Noah Botic of Australia celebrates a scored goal 

Australia edged Nigeria 2-1 in the teams' final Group B encounter at the FIFA U-17 World Cup  2019 at the Estadio Bezerrão in Brasilia (Gama). Noah Botic continued his fine form in the tournament by netting a brace, scoring a goal in each half in what was an intense match with both sides enterprising in their attacking play.

This was a significant result for the Joeys, not only for its immediate value in potentially securing their qualification to the Round of 16 as one of the best third-place sides, but also for its historical value. This was the first win for Australia against Nigeria at their seventh attempt in the U-17 world finals. Australia coach Trevor Morgan will be delighted by the form of Botic. The forward has scored four of Australia's five goals at Brazil 2019, and if they secure qualification to the knockout stage, he will be a player Morgan will know he can rely on to deliver.

Already qualified for the last 16, Nigeria showed the quality and talent they have in their side despite the result. They were thwarted by an inspired Australian defence led by goalkeeper Adam Pavlesic, who made multiple saves on the evening. Nigeria head coach Manu Garba will be pleased with his team's response after going down early when Peter Olawale, who was making his debut, equalised in the 21st minute with a terrific curled, left-footed shot from the edge of the box. However, the Golden Eaglets are going to want to improve on their finishing in the knockout stage as they failed to be clinical in front of goal in a game when they registered 34 shots in total.

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