Golden Eaglets

AFCON U-17: Players development over trophy – Ugbade

Nigeria’s Head Coach, Nduka Ugbade, has admitted that his boys have much work on their hands at the Africa U17 Cup of Nations that began in Algeria on Saturday, as every team would be super determined and work extra hard to try and beat the five-time world champions.

Speaking at the pre – match press conference ahead of the Golden Eaglets’ clash with Zambia on Sunday, at the Stade Chahid Hamlaoui, the former FIFA Cadet World Cup-winning captain minced no words in saying that Nigeria is under pressure, but added that the team will do everything within her strength and capacity to excel.

“We are under pressure. We know that every team wants to beat Nigeria. I am not so much interested in the trophy as in the development of the players, and the beauty of the game,” Ugbade stated.

He added: “These are young players. You can never say after all your preparations what comes next because you are playing technically, you are also playing tactically and also have to consider the psychological discipline of the players. We want the players to be disciplined to go for 90 minutes to emerge victorious.

“To achieve this, we want to do everything humanly possible within the context of our strength and capacity to see that every team that comes against us is subdued.”

Nigeria won the Africa U17 Cup of Nations in 2001 and 2007, the same number of times as Cameroon, Ghana, Mali and The Gambia. Cameroon and Mali, alongside Burkina Faso (one-time winners) and South Sudan will battle it out in Group C. Hosts Algeria, Senegal, Congo and Somalia will duel in Group A.

Other previous winners of the competition are Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire, who are not in Algeria.

Nigeria has also finished as runners-up on two other occasions, won the bronze medals once and finished in fourth place twice, one of which was in 2015, when they went ahead to win the FIFA World Cup in Chile.

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