Head Coach Nduka Ugbade has told his Nigeria U17 boys they still have grounds to conquer despite securing a ticket to the Africa U17 Cup of Nations taking place in Algeria next year.
“We are going into the final match, and we are up against Burkina Faso, a team that has won all its four matches in this competition. We have also won our three matches here but we must win the fourth and final one to clinch the trophy. Let us not allow Burkina Faso to play five matches and win all five matches. We must work assiduously to win all our four matches here to be the only undefeated team of the tournament,” Ugbade told the Golden Eaglets at a training session in Cape Coast on Wednesday.
Ugbade and the Eaglets have drawn rave reviews so far at the WAFU B U17 Championship, after scoring 10 goals in their three matches, while conceding only four, as left-back Emmanuel Michael picked up the Man-of-the-Match award in each of the three games.
While Nigeria did the business in a three-team Group A that also included hosts Ghana and Togo, Burkina Faso were in the four-team Group that included Niger Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, and the Benin Republic. The Young Etalons dominated them all and then pipped three-time world champions Ghana 1-0 in the second semi-final on Tuesday to set up a potentially explosive Final with the Golden Eaglets.
Deadball revelation Emmanuel Michael will be the cynosure of eyes at the Cape Coast Stadium on Friday evening, having scored thrice from free kicks for Nigeria in this tournament. The match begins at 6.30 pm Ghana time (7.30 pm Nigeria time).
Nigeria and Burkina Faso are already qualified for the Africa U17 Championship which Algeria will host next year, and from which Africa’s flagbearers to next year’s FIFA U17 World Cup in Peru will emerge.
Victory on Friday evening will mean Nigeria has swept the stakes in youth football in the seven-nation WAFU B within one month, with the U20 Boys (Flying Eagles) having won the WAFU B U20 Championship in the Niger Republic just last month.