Nigeria’s Under-17 national team coach, Emmanuel Amuneke has “commended” the Confederation of African Football (Caf), its parent body, Fifa, for its strict adherence to the mandatory MRI scans for junior internationals.
The Golden Eaglets secured a 2-0 win against hosts Niger in the opening game of the African Under-17 Championship in Niamey on Sunday.
Players have been subjected to an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan to determine if they are within the age bracket allowed for the finals since the 2009 edition.
“I would also like to commend CAF and FIFA for the MRI scans for these age groups tournaments because this is hugely advancing African football and it’s so exciting to see the future players of African football doing very well at this stage,” Amuneke said in his post-game media conference at the Stade Seyni Kountche.
Goals from Victor Osimhen and skipper Kelechi Nwakali powered the two-time champions over the Junior Mena. Nigeria top Group A on goal difference ahead of Guinea, 1-0 winners over debutantes Zambia.
A win for the reigning world champions in their penultimate group game against Guinea on Wednesday will see them clinch their ticket for the 2015 Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Chile later this year.
“The most important thing in football today is to win. It was important for us to win our first game,” Amuneke noted. “We took our chances and defended well. Now we have to see how we can grow from strength to strength. Credit to Niger because they are a good side and I would only urge them to keep working hard.”
Meanwhile, the Eaglets have earned plaudits from players and officials of the Nigeria Under-20 national team for their winning start in Niger.
The current Under-20 internationals, who are away in Ghana for two warm-up matches ahead of next month’s African Youth Championship in Senegal, are immediate predecessors to the present cadet team led by Amuneke- an assistant to Manu Garba when Nigeria won a record fourth Fifa Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirate in 2013.
“It was most important that they started the tournament with a win and now, with another win they will be through to the semi-finals, meaning they could book their ticket to the World Cup by Wednesday,” Flying Eagles coach Manu said.