The Golden Eaglets’ performances so far in the Under- 17 African Youth Championship had been commendable, having won two out of the three fixtures of the group stage of the tournament they look well on course to emerging champions.
A 6- 0 and 7- 0 drubbing of ousted tournament favourites Ghana and a nine- man Congo respectively, saw the Eaglets into the semifinal where they are to meet Tunisia.
The team must be commended for their character and resilience after staging a comeback from the shock 1- 0 defeat handed to Group B runners- up Cote d’Ivoire at the stroke of ninety minutes.
Coach Manu Garba saluted the courage of the players, adding that the focus now is on the semi- final game against Tunisia.
“We are happy that we have eventually qualified for the World Cup because that was our first priority at this championship and we thank God that we have achieved that,” said Garba, the assistant coach of the 2007 Under- 17 winning team.
“We are happy that we eventually topped a tough group that had three strong West African teams and Congo. But we have put this victory over Congo behind us as we forge ahead for the crucial stages of the championship.”
Striker Success Isaac now leads the tournament’s scorer’s chart with six goals, he is optimistic about the team’s chances of going past Tunisia.
“We are looking forward to the game against Tunisia on Wednesday,” he said.
“The success today (Saturday) goes to the team because we are a group. Our coaches told us how to approach the match against Congo and we thank God we were able to follow their instructions.”
Kelechi Iheanacho scored a hat- trick in the game against Congo and has scored a total of four goals in this year tournament. He is dedicating his four goals to his late mother Mercy; he also expressed optimism about the team’s chances of winning the tournament which Nigeria last won six years ago.
“We will continue to assist ourselves until we achieve our objective of winning the 2013 U17 trophy,” he vowed.