By Ebenezer Bajela.
After suffering defeat to hosts, Bulgaria, in their opening game at the ongoing IHF Emerging Nations Championship in Bulgaria, Nigeria claimed a comfortable 35-17 victory over Azerbaijan on Thursday.
The coach Solomon Yola led team were dominant from the start and ended the first half with an 18-7 win with the rising star of Nigerian handball, Faruk Yusuf, finishing the first half with six goals, three of which came via fast breaks, as Nigeria were simply unstoppable with an amazing display of lightening speed.
The second half continued as the first with captain Obinna Anih motivating the team with fast breaks goals, nine metres goals and defending well enough to earn a comfortable 35-17 at the end of the match.
Yusuf extended his superb run in the game, finishing with a 13-goal performance, taking his overall tally to 19 goals, the second largest in the group phase which is two goals shy of leading goal scorer Unai Ruiz of Andorra but Obinna Anih was voted the player of the match for his leadership performance.
It is Nigeria’s second biggest win in the competition in 12 games after their 40-13 win over Malta in 2019.
The national U-24 male handball team, who finished second in Group D behind host Bulgaria, will play Great Britain in a fifth placement match on Saturday to better their last position in the competition of 7th place.
Great Britain, just like Nigeria, have played two matches wherein they lost to Cuba 32-28 and then defeated Guatemala 28-17 in Group C.