The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) U-17 All-Stars lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid youth in the last of the Gauteng Future Champions Cup on Saturday.
Alberto Salido scored the opener for the Spanish side 22 minutes into the game, before Kano Pillars striker Nazifi Yahaya scored in the second half to level matters in the 48th minutes
The NPFL All-Stars coach, Austine Eguavoen, rolled out only one change to the side that won the elimination rounds against Bidvest Wits by starting Tari Joseph without 3SC’s Rafiu Ishaq.
Atletico captain Rodrigo Riquelme, Alvaro Chumilla, Nicolas Garcia and Alberto Salido cause havoc for the NPFL selected side with their possessive pattern of play.
The NPFL All-Stars were constrained to huffing long balls forward, focusing on the pace Mustapha Musa and Nazifi.
With just a minutes into stoppage time, Adrian Luque made no mistake from an unmarked position inside the box by heading Riquelme’s free kick beyond Galadima in an unsighted circumstance from a tailored cross by Riquelme, ending Equavoen led side the dream of lifting the coveted future Cup.
The NPFL U-17 side did not lose any game before the last, but rather couldn’t utilise the vast majority of their scoring chances against the more determined and sorted out Spanish side.
The NPFL U-17 All-stars finished up as runner-up, while Atletico Madrid lived up to expectation as one of the top picks by winning the competition.
Former Super Eagles head coach Eguavoen believes the competition was a window for the team to gain exposure.
“Congratulations to the Spanish side. Our boys came here, fought and did their best. But there are small, intricate things our boys still have to learn.”
Well, we were together for just nine days before this tournament and facing strong teams like Atletico Madrid who have been together for a while is good for us. At the end, we lost concentration but it has been a wonderful tournament for us despite losing on the final day,” Eguavoen said after the game.