Golden Eaglets’ striker Orji Okonkwo has dedicated his 35-yard screamer which fetched the second goal for Nigeria in the 4-2 defeat of Mexico in the semi finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to his mum.
Okonkwo who described the ‘wonder goal’ as his best ever was also full of praises to Coach Emmanuel Amuneke who handed the chance to shine having been chosen as the replacement for Funsho Bamgboye who was suspended after two yellow cards.
Okonkwo indeed grabbed the chance availed him to score what is known in Nigerian football parlance as ‘intercontinental ballistic missile.’
“I have never scored a goal like this before and you cannot practice this kind of goal,” admitted Okwonkwo, the first boy in a family with six other children. The goal I scored against Mexico today is a wonderful goal and I’m dedicating the goal to my mum who has been there for me; challenging me to be the best.
“My dad died last year; I remember him too but it is my mum that has been there for me all this while. I thank her so much,” he said.
Okonkwo, is one of the team’s pacesetter performers who scored thrice, including a goal against Mali on April 21, 2014, at the sub-regional West African Football Union (WAFU) B Tournament in Togo where the Golden Eaglets finished third behind Benin and Togo.
Over 21,000 spectators including NFF President Amaju Pinnick, saw Okonkwo’s top -of -the -drawer goal but there was another person on his mind when his lively shot sailed into the net: Emmanuel Amuneke.
“Today, I want to thank Coach Emmanuel Amuneke for pushing me so hard,” said the player, who was sanctioned and kept out of the squad for months prior to the African U-17 Championship in Niger Republic.
He continued: “He is a nice person who wants the best for us. Before the match, he called me and said: ‘Orji, this is your chance, you can’t avoid to let yourself and Nigerians down’ and when I scored, I kept saying ‘coach, coach, coach’. I’m grateful to him,” added the teenager who is two-time winner of the annual Karanka Reveria Invitational Tournament in Croatia in 2013 and 2015 with Abuja Football College.