Coach Manu Gar ba (MFR) has warned his boys against overconfidence as the Golden Eaglets eye a place in the second round; knockout stages of the 15th edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the UAE.
Speaking at the team’s final training session as well as the official Press Conference on Monday, Manu said the victory against Mexico is all but forgotten when they face Sweden at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Tuesday(5 p.m. Nigerian time).
Manu reminded the players about the unfortunate incident at the CAN African Championship in Morocco when they won their opening match with an identical 6-1 against Ghana only to concede a 1-0 defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in the second match .
“We want you to focus only on our match against Sweden because that is the only thing that matters to us now,” he said at the training.”Don’t forget what happened to us in Morocco when we beat Ghana 6-1 in our
first match but lost to Cote d’Ivoire in the next match.”
That defeat at Mohammed V stadium in Marrakech which was the teams first in almost 30 matches still pains Manu as he spoke in clear terms:” Brazil and Italy have both qualified for the second round
because they won their first two matches. “We have no excuse not to follow on their footsteps by winning our second game against Sweden and I have no doubt in my mind that you can achieve it.”
History indeed favours the Golden Eaglets’ aspiration since they have failed to qualify for the second round stage of any tournament only once 10 years ago at the 10th edition held in Finland in 2003.
”We won’t and can’t allow history to repeat itself ,”noted hard- working Chidiebere Nwakali who was bashed by the press and public for that cheeky penalty kick in the 5-4 loss to Cote d’Ivoire at CAN Cup final.”It was very unfortunate that we lost to Cote d’Ivoire in Morocco and that was a big lesson for us.
”Our focus is on Sweden and the coaches have reminded us about the need for total concentration,” added Nwakali who was singled out for his virtuoso performance against Mexico.
The same was said by Japhaet Raymond at the press conference: “We have forgotten about Mexico; our focus is on Sweden and by the grace of God, we shall be victorious.”