Awoniyi relishes World Cup experience

“To achieve what we want here, we have to have faith in every member of the team,” Awoniyi told FIFA.com after starting Nigeria’s Round of 16 win against Iran. “It’s not just about the boys in the first XI

Golden Eaglets’ forward, Taiwo Awoniyi, has expressed joy for featuring in all the games so far played at the ongoing FIFA Under-17 World Cup, UAE 2013.
Awoniyi, just 16 years old, arrived in UAE expecting to learn lessons, supporting his older, more experienced mates from the bench.
The No 18 he wears on his back is a clear indication of his place in the pecking order behind No 10, Kalechi Iheanacho, who has scored five goals so far at the U-17 finals, and Success Isaac, the first choice No 9 in this Golden Eaglets team.
“To achieve what we want here, we have to have faith in every member of the team,” Awoniyi told FIFA.com after starting Nigeria’s Round of 16 win against Iran. “It’s not just about the boys in the first XI. We were all brought to the World Cup for a reason, because we can do a job. And when I’m in, it’s my turn to do that job.”
A late substitute in the opener against Mexico, he came off the bench again after 32 minutes of the next game with Sweden.
It was a change forced on Coach Manu Garba as his preferred striker, Isaac, pulled a hamstring.
There was no time for Awoniyi to warm up, no time for him to be nervous.
Garba shouted his name, he popped up off the bench and into the fray he went.
“Whether I start or not, I will always put in my best effort on the pitch,” said the young man from Osun State.
He’s played every minute since.
A tall striker with pace to burn, Awoniyi does the kind of hard work that only comes with limited chances, the hunger of having played second fiddle.
He stretches opposition’s defences with his tireless and intelligent movement, providing outlets and options for playmaker Musa Yahaya.
He’s a beacon, a target and his smaller, more agile, mates buzz around him like flies.
It’s is a selfless role and Awoniyi scores few goals for his troubles.
In his 256 minutes of football here in UAE, he has just one.
Although it was a crucial goal, the third nine minutes from time in a 3-3 draw with Sweden, Iheanacho has five and Yahaya – not even listed as a forward – has four.
Nigeria has scored 18 times in their four games.

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