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Nigeria crush Mexico to win record fourth under-17 title

Nigeria's team players celebrate winning their U-17 World Cup UAE final soccer match against Mexico at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dha
Nigeria's team players celebrate winning their U-17 World Cup UAE final soccer match against Mexico at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dha

(Reuters) - Nigeria won the world under-17 championship for a record fourth time on Friday, overpowering holders Mexico 3-0 in the final in Abu Dhabi, helped by two defensive mistakes.

Nigeria, who thrashed their opponents 6-1 in the group stage, went ahead after nine minutes when Mexico defender Erick Aguirre turned Musa Yahaha's shot into his own net after they were caught on the break.

Mexico goalkeeper Raul Gudino was at fault for Nigeria's second in the 56th minute when he failed to hold a wickedly swerving shot by Musa Muhammed and Kelechi Iheanacho snapped up the rebound for his sixth goal of the competition.

Nigeria captain Muhammed added the third in the 81st minute from a free kick which he curled around the Mexican defensive wall, the Golden Eaglets' 26th goal in seven games.

Nigeria won the inaugural tournament in 1995 and were also triumphant in 1993 and 2007. Brazil have won the two-yearly tournament three times followed by Ghana and Mexico with two apiece.

Their triumph, however, is no guarantee of a successful career for the players. In the past, only a relatively small number have gone on to flourish at senior level.

None of the Brazil squad who won the 2003 tournament, and should now be in the prime of their careers, is currently in the senior side as the South Americans prepare to host next year's World Cup.

Meanwhile, only three out of 21 members of Switzerland's victorious squad from 2009 have progressed to the national side - Granit Xhaka, Ricardo Rodriguez and Haris Seferovic.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Tony Goodson)

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