06 Aug. 2019
Nigeria made some small handball history as they made their debut at an IHF Youth World Championship, but despite an eight-goal loss against Bahrain, they had plenty of positives to take from their first match at this level. Bahrain did enough throughout the 60 minutes but will face tougher challenges ahead as Group C continues in Skopje, North Macedonia.
Bahrain vs Nigeria 36:28 (17:13)
Boris Trajkovski Arena, Skopje
Faruk Yusuf will go down in Nigerian handball history as their first-ever player to score in an IHF men’s or women’s youth world championship, but his side will have to wait for their first point, or win, after a defeat against the Asian continental youth champions, Bahrain.
Bahrain were never behind in the whole match as Nigeria, with just 14 squad players, kept in touch with just a two-goal deficit for nearly 40 minutes, but the fourth-placed African continental youth side could fell off in the last third of the match as Bahrain comfortably took the two points, leading by 10 in the final moments (35:25) before two late Nigerian goals made the scoreline a little bit more respectable.
Even up to a few minutes before the half-time break, Bahrain were not completely clear of their opponents as Nigeria, led by their captain, the diminutive Ibrahim Dikko, constantly breathed down their necks, but consistent goals from Mohamed Mohamed, who ended with 13 in the match, ensured his side would see out the first half in front.
Nigeria coach Emeka Joseph Nnanami called his first team time out at 7:5 down just short of the quarter hour mark but it only inspired their opponents, who came out of the break fired up and went further up, 9:5 moments later
With just seconds remaining, the influential Dikko fell awkwardly on his should and had to be treated well after the final buzzer with Nnanami sure to be pleased his side have a rest day tomorrow before facing host nation North Macedonia on Thursday (8 August).
“I am not satisfied with this match,” said Nnanami to wch2019championship.com.mk. “We played bad in attack, plus they are good team; however it’s our first match and I am sure that we’ll do better.”
“It’s good when you win a match, but I am not satisfied with this performance,” said Bahrain’s Johan Halldor. “We conceded 28 goals and that’s too much, but the first match of the tournament is always difficult.”
Best Player of the Match: Mohamed Mohamed (BRN)
Photo: WCH 2019 / Filip Viranovski