By: Gracious Akujobi The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is not heaping pressure on the Golden Eaglets to emerge winners of the forthcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the UAE despite being regarded as one of the favourites of the tournament already won on three previous occasions.
This much was the frank opinion of Chris Green, a board member and Chairman of the influential Technical Committee of the NFF, adding that the federation is at best concerned with laying a solid foundation for Nigerian football.
“Of course, we want the Golden Eaglets to do well at the World Cup but it is not a case of winning at all cost and that is why we are been meticulous with our approach with this current team,” said the former Commissioner for Sports in Rivers State.“Our philosophy is that
youth competitions are just developmental and we want to see a situation whereby our players would have more playing longevity.”
But speaking about the immediate, Green agreed that the Golden Eaglets have a decent chance to progress from their World Cup Preliminary Group after they were drawn against Mexico; Iraq and Sweden.
Said he, “I think the Golden Eagles have already achieved something by qualifying for the World Cup and on our part, we have achieved something greater because everyone has been saying that this is the most credible Under-17 team ever presented by the country.
“Agreed the Mexicans are the defending champions, you cannot ignore the fact that Nigeria is a strong country at this level as such, we expect that the Golden Eaglets would do well at the World Cup,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Golden Eaglets would play a friendly match against the reserve team of Akwa United on Wednesday at the Uyo Township Stadium in continuation of their preparation for the World Cup.
Erstwhile junior international, Nwankwo Kanu has enthused that the Golden Eaglets would qualify from their Preliminary Group F at the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the UAE everything being equal. Kanu, a graduate of the FIFA under-17 World Cup, was one of the few
players highlighted during Monday’s Draw Ceremony at Hotel Fairmont Bab Al Bahr where the Golden Eaglets were drawn along Mexico; Iraq and Sweden in what has already being described as an ‘interesting and exciting group’ by Coach Manu Garba.
“I’m happy that FIFA noted my previous achievement at the Under-17 World Cup because we won it in 1993,” Kanu said. “But I would be happier if the present squad go all the way to win the championship gain in the UAE.”
“I have great confidence in this team and I want to implore the coaches to drum it to the ears of the players that winning the first game against Mexico is very important,” said the two-time African Footballer of the Year. “Winning that first game against Mexico would boost their confidence and I believe that would set the tone for every other thing they would do at the competition.”