The Nigerian national boys’ team fell at the last hurdle of the regional tournament in Togo to surrender the title the country lifted a couple of years ago
Golden Eaglets head coach Fatai Amoo says his boys failed to defend their WAFU B Afcon qualifying tournament title because they were overwhelmed with stage-fright and anxiety.
The Nigeria U17 national team lost 3-2 to Ivory Coast in Togo on Monday, with the Baby Elephants racing to a commanding three-nil lead before the Eaglets staged an incomplete comeback.
Having beaten steep odds to reach the WAFU B final, coach Amoo is disappointed that his boys allowed the occasion’s pressure to handicap them.
However, the former Julius Berger gaffer is confident that the experience and exposure gained in Togo will stand the team well at the Afcon proper in Morocco later in the year.
“Stagefright, anxiety, and lack of exposure affected the Eaglets in Togo,” Amoo said, as per the Guardian.
“The boys allowed the pressure of meeting teams from other parts of Africa to overwhelm them. Based on the experience they got in Togo, I believe the boys have the prospect to shine in Morocco.
“The players I took to Togo were good, although their performance has exposed lapses, which will be corrected as the team progresses. At this point, I will not say I will inject new players to beef up the Eaglets, time will tell if such a move would be necessary.”
Nigeria are the most successful national boys team in the world with five FIFA U-17 World Cup titles and three runners-up medals.
The Golden Eaglets have also emerged African champions on two occasions in 2001 and 2007 and last made it to the final at Morocco 2013, where they lost the title-decider to Ivory Coast.