President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick has charged the U17 National Team, Golden Eaglets to keep level heads and stay focused in order to conquer Ghana’s Black Starlets in Niamey on Saturday and qualify for the the finals of the 2019 Africa U17 Cup of Nations.
Both West African giants of world cadet football clash in the final of the CAF U17 Cup of Nations WAFU B Tournament at the Stade General Seyni Kountche on Saturday evening, with the lone ticket to the Africa U17 Cup of Nations Tanzania 2019 to serve as the spur for an explosive encounter.
The atmosphere will be further charged by a 67 – year rivalry between both nations, with crucial wins for either country over the decades. But the Eaglets are encouraged that Ghana’s semi final victims Cote d’Ivoire, suffered a 5-1 hiding when both teams met at the same venue last week.
Nigeria would be further buoyed by the maturity that comes with a plurality of experience, having come from a shaky start to the tournament to reach the final battle. They fell behind 0-2 to Burkina Faso in their opening match before drawing level, only to lose the tie by conceding late in the game. Against the Ivorians, they fired from all cylinders from the beginning and led 5-0, and against Niger Republic on Wednesday, created a hatful of chances and led 2-0 before conceding a late consolation to the hosts.
Pinnick, who is also 1st Vice President of the Confederation of African Football, is in no doubt that the Nigerian boys possess the quality to defeat the Black Starlets and also do the nation proud at the final tournament in Tanzania.
“First, I want to congratulate you on a job well done so far; you have done very well including exhibiting the never-say die spirit that is peculiar to Nigerians. This was visible in the manner you bounced back after the loss to the Burkinabes to dismiss the Ivorians 5-1, and also beat the host nation in the semi finals.
“But I want you to know that the job is not done yet. You must stay focused and listen to your coaches. I believe in their leadership because they are very knowledgeable and experienced and have discovered so many talented players that have excelled in recent years,” Pinnick said.
Speaking further, the NFF supremo advised the young lads to avoid distractions from agents, who according to him, will deceive and hurry them into signing for clubs that would not aid their proper development.
“The youth tournaments are basically developmental, so you have to follow instructions from your coaches and don’t allow agents to deceive you and make you sign for clubs in obscure countries. Players like Nwankwo Kanu and Mikel John Obi, just to mention two, started properly and so were properly developed to stay longer in the game.”
Pinnick then promised to take the team for a training tour in either Qatar or Jordan ahead of the U17 AFCON in Tanzania to further help their development, once they qualify.
Five players from the NFF U15 squad discovered during the annual NFF/Zenith Bank Future Eagles Championship, are part of the current squad tutored by Manu Garba.
Responding on behalf of the team, goalkeeper Joseph Oluwabusola thanked the Nigeria Football Federation for the support so far and promised that they will make Nigeria proud on Saturday by defeating the Black Starlets to qualify for the U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Tanzania.