The Golden Eaglets will open their 2015 U-17 World Cup defence with a clash against the USA tomorrow.
The Eaglets who have set the benchmark when it comes to U-17 football – at least, on the global level will have their hands full as the Americans are plotting an upset. With four FIFA U-17 World Cup titles as well as three further appearances in the final match, the Nigerian team is the most successful team in the tournament’s history. In Chile 2015, the Eaglets are regarded as one of the favourites.
But coach Emmanuel Amuneke explained to FIFA.com recently, that their best play tends to come out on the biggest stage. “We do well at the World Cup because the pitches help us to play much better. This happened at the 2013 tournament in the United Arab Emirates,” a tournament the Eaglets won by a 3-0 margin over Mexico in the final.
The coach has in the last one year or so engineered a new squad he believes can successfully defend the title their predecessors won in the UAE two years ago. Some of the key players in the present squad include Kelechi Nwakali, Victor Osimhen, Ebere Osinachi and Samuel Chukwueze.
But Amuneke said the team operates as a unit. “This team is not based only on Nwakali or Osimhen; we have other good players too. We have some very good players in this team, but what matters to me is to see them function as a team because a team must play collectively.”
He said the Eaglets were ready for the tournament having been together for a long time now. “All we are asking of Nigerians is their support for the team and we promise to make them happy.”
Captain Victor Osimhen has insisted that they were in Chile to bring back the trophy and the USA cannot stand in their way. “I want to assure Nigerians that we will do our best to contain the USA in our opening match. We want to come home with the trophy. The USA cannot stop our dream.”
FIFA U-17 World Cup tomorrow’s Fixtures
England v Guinea 8 pm
Nigeria v USA 9 pm
Brazil v Korea Republic 11 pm
Chile v Croatia 12 am