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Football | Nigeria

Eaglets assure ahead of CAN U17

Nigeria's Golden Eaglets have declared that they will progress from their group at the 2013 African Under17 Championship in Morocco.

The Eaglets have been drawn in Group B alongside two West African foes, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana as well as Congo.

Nigeria head coach, Manu Garba has described their group as interesting.

He, however, expressed confidence that the Eaglets will progress from the group widely regarded as the 'Group of Death.'

Garba said the target of his team is first to qualify for the semifinals in order to book a ticket for the 2013 Fifa Under17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

"The draws are very interesting because we have two other West African teams in our group, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.

"I’m confident about our chances despite the fact that we are going to play our traditional rivals," he said.

Ghana top the African Under17 Championship all-time record after being crowned champions in 1995 and 1999. The Black Starlets were also runners-up in 2005 and twice second runners-up in 1997 and 2007.

Nigeria, on the other hand, are second in the all-time championship record following the Eaglets’ success in 2001 and 2007 as well as runners-up and second runners-up in 1995 and 2003 respectively.

Both Cote d’Ivoire and Congo Brazzaville are still looking for their first title but they came third in 2005 and 2011.

"On paper our group can be regarded as the toughest because of the records of all the four teams in the past championships," admitted Garba.

"It's important that we play all the tough teams and win if we're going to be the overall champions.

"With good preparations and God on our side we shall qualify from our group irrespective of the opposition to get to the semifinals and qualify for the World Cup," added Garba.

Garba's assistant, Emmanuel Amuneke also re-echoes the words of his boss that they will reach the last four if they prepare adequately.

“We have been drawn in a tough group and the only thing we can do now is to go back and prepare to face the teams,” Amuneke told supersport.com.

The former FC Barcelona winger however refused to identify any of the three teams in the pool as the biggest threat to Nigeria’s chances of progressing from the group.

“All the teams (in the group) can potentially win the Under17 World Cup. It will be wrong of us to focus on any of the teams. We have to show all our opponents respect,” he said.

The 1994 African Footballer of the Year rounded off by praising the team spirit of the Eaglets which he believes will carry the team through to success in Morocco next year.

“There are no big players in this team. Everyone works for each other and that has been our strongest point. We will not change now,” he said.

Morocco will play hosts to the African Under17 Championship between April 13 and 27 next year.

2013 CAF U-17 Championship
Group A

Morocco, Gabon, Tunisia, Botswana

Group B

Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana

by Humphrey Njoku & Sammy Wejinya


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