Coach of the Nigeria under-20 national team Manu Garba says his team have taken a very bold step towards qualification for the 2015 Fifa World Cup in New Zealand after Sunday’s opening win in the African Youth Championship.
First half brace by Taiwo Awoniyi and Ifeanyi Matthew’s brilliant strike gave Nigeria a 3-1 win, either side of Sidy Sarr’s consolation for the African Under-20 Championship hosts, Senegal, at the Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor, Dakar.
The win moved the Flying Eagles top of Group A as the other Match Day 1 encounter involving Cote d’Ivoire and Congo ended a goal apiece.
“The result of any opening game is very crucial in a tournament like this and we are grateful to God we won,” Manu said after the win over Senegal.
Record six-time winners Nigeria face Congo in their penultimate game on Wednesday. The best two teams from either pools qualifies for the semi-finals of the tournament, as well as secure a place in the group stages of this year’s World Cup finals, slated for May 30 through June 20.
“It’s our first three points of a very important competition,” Manu quipped. “We have now taken a foot towards qualifying for the World Cup.
“We did not know a lot about Senegal before the match, but the boys did a good job. BU we have also put this game behind us and our focus is on our next game on Wednesday (against Congo).”
He added: “Our greatest aim is to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup and more importantly as African champions.”