Hopes, Fears As Golden Eaglets Get Set For Kick-Off Of Under-17 World Cup In Brazil

By Nelson Dafe on October 17, 2019

Views: 616

As Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets get set for the kick-off of the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil, the feeling among compatriots is more of hope than expectation giving the unimpressive manner in which the team qualified for the cadet World Cup.

The Eaglets looked uninspiring and laboured at the African Junior Nations Cup where they wobbled to a fourth place finish which was just enough to secure qualification to Brazil.

I understand in the months since that Nations Cup, the Eaglets have undergone a lot of changes, with different players drafted in to beef up the team.

However, the usual accusations of bias in team selection have not gone away and the Eaglets would go into the tournament with real expectation about how they are going to perform at a low.

But it needs be remembered that true success at the Under-17 level needs not be judged more by winning the tournament itself than by using the competition as a genuine tool to develop good talents for the long term good health of the senior national team, the Super Eagles.

That said, success in the Under-17 World Cup and long term success for the senior team are linked and a good performance in Brazil will give reassurances that good players are coming through.

Victor Osimhen, Orji Okoronkwo and Samuel Chukwueze were very good quality players who led the Golden Eaglets to win the Under-17 World Cup four years ago and today the young lads are big names of international football as they do well for their professional clubs.

The hope is that this current squad can similarly throw up players who will capture the minds and who one can point to as top class prospects for the future.

Nigeria’s opening match of the tournament comes up against Hungary in Goiania on October 26.

The Eaglets will then face Ecuador at the same venue on October 29 and later tackle Australia in Brasilia on November 1 in a Group B encounter.

Meanwhile, the team tuned up some days ago with a friendly against Sao Paulo of Brazil’s Under-17 team and lost 1-2.

Ordinarily there’s nothing much to make from a friendly match defeat as such games are typically used as a test.

The hope however is that the confidence of the boys and the Manu Garba-led technical crew has not been badly shaken as to lead to serious self doubt giving the past results of this team

Here’s how ThisDay newspaper report on the Nigeria Under-17 vs Sao Paulo Under-17 game:

“Five-time world champions, Golden Eaglets of Nigeria lost 1-2 to Sao Paulo Under-17 side in a friendly game played at the Sorocaba Sports Complex in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Monday evening.

The Nigerian boys approached the game with confidence and were in control at the opening minutes of the game, with Olakunle Olusegun missing the target narrowly when he should have scored.

It was Sao Paulo FC that drew the first blood with the first chance they created. A beautiful lop from the midfield was well-controlled by Danilo Silva with his left foot, beating Simon Omon in the process, and he ran into the box with a perfect finish in the 18th minute.

Thereafter, the Eaglets unleashed series of attacks in search of an equalizer. Unfortunately, Ibrahim Mohammed and Olusegun failed to convert the chances that were created from the midfield.

Peter Ukeme, who appeared not physically fit was replaced after 35 minutes by Akinkunmi Amoo and the introduction of the stocky attacking midfielder presented a big threat to the Brazilians even as the first half ended with Nigeria trailing 1-0.

It was a different ball game entirely in the second half as the Eaglets came in full-blast search for the equaliser. Monsuru Abdulsalam’s left footed shot inside the box was parried by the Sao Paulo goalkeeper for a corner kick. The resultant corner kick was not well-connected, but there was a glimpse of hope that the equaliser was lurking around and it came few minutes later when Monsuru dribbled three defenders, surged into the box and was hacked down for a penalty kick.

Olusegun converted the opportunity to make it 1-1. The Eaglets continued piling pressure to break the defence of Sao Paulo for a second time but the goalkeeper came severally to the rescue of the Brazilians.

As time ticked away, Sao Paulo’s attackers pounced on a loose ball from the midfield, launched a counter attack and a cross from the left side of the midfield was neatly jabbed into the net by Enrique Santos in the 85th minute.”

•PHOTO: Golden Eaglets

Source Daily Sports

Posted October 17, 2019


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