Most strikers will tell you, rather tritely, that the most important thing is for the team to do well. Though this sentiment is most assuredly accurate and sincere, any marksman worth his salt also hopes to score as many goals as humanly possible en route to that team success. The teenagers chasing glory here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 are no exceptions either.
At the top of the charts with five goals apiece currently sits a trio of outstandingly talented forwards: Sebastian Gallegos of Uruguay, Spain’s Borja and Nigerian speed merchant Sani Emmanuel. And while the South American Atletico Madrid man with braces on his teeth, Gallegos, will have no further chance to score at these junior finals, the other two will have ample opportunity to add to their goals tally on Sunday 15 November in Abuja.
Borja, Spain’s brawny and powerful front-man, will line up for La Rojita in the third-place consolation match early in the day at the National Stadium in the Nigerian capital. In five games, the Gallegos’ Atletico teammate has scored every manner of goal, including a rueful close-range effort in the dying moments of a heavy loss to Nigeria in their semi-final in Lagos. With the chance at a world title now gone, the hit-man will surely be looking to head back to the Vicente Calderon with some kind of trinket, and the adidas Golden Shoe would fit the bill perfectly.
While Borja represents the more traditional centre-forward, and is on the pitch from the start every time Spain take the field, Nigeria’s top scorer is an altogether more enigmatic proposition. Emmanuel has established himself as the supersub par excellence with all five of his goals so far coming from off the bench, and usually in the second half. A speedy and goal-hungry youngster, Emmanuel is looking poised for the top scorer prize before the grand final with Switzerland just around the corner. “He comes off the bench and he scores goals; this is a good thing for a coach to have access too,” joked Nigerian coach John Obuh about his luxury sub, whose five tallies have come in only 144 minutes, a full 308 minutes fewer than Borja. On average that adds up to a goal about every 28 minutes or so for the My People striker.
These clinical three are not the only ones with a chance of picking up the Golden Shoe here in Nigeria. Swiss pair Nassim Ben Khalifa and Haris Seferovic will be lining up in the final against Nigeria with four goals each to their name and hungry for more. Right up in back are Nigeria’s Stanley Okoro and Edafe Egbedi, Spain’s Sergi Roberto and Adria Carmona, all on three and in action on the tournament’s final matchday.
If players are still tangled at the top of the scorers’ chart after Sunday’s hostilities, then assists and minutes played will be employed to break the tie.