The race to birth the next Kanu Nwankwo, Celestine Babayaro, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Victor Osimhen for the country begins in Togo as the qualifying tournament of the U-17 Afcon kicks off in the next few hours
The West African Football Union (WAFU B) U17 Tournament hosted by Togo commences on January 5 with five-time U-17 world champions Nigeria set to battle three-time world champions Ghana and rivals Ivory Coast in Group B.
The competition serves as a qualifying process for this year’s CAF U17 Cup of Nations in Morocco.
Unlike Group B, which has three teams, Group A accommodates Togo, Niger Republic, Benin Republic, and Burkina Faso, with the top two sides qualifying for the semifinals of the championship.
However, Nigeria’s group is the proverbial ‘group of death, with two national teams that boast eight world titles between them.
Before facing perennial foes Ghana on Friday, the Golden Eaglets must first aim for a win and three points at stake against Ivory Coast.
The Little Elephants are no pushovers, though, having won the continental title in 2013 and are being handled by one of their most famous goalkeepers, Pierre Alain Gouaméné.
And the coach Fatai Amoo-led side will be expected to follow in the footsteps of their distinguished predecessors, starting with a victory on matchday one.
Nigerian Team News
The Nigerian contingent comprising of officials and players, led by Garba Lawal, arrived in Togo on Monday morning and are lodged at Hotel Novela Star at the outskirt of Lome.
Before leaving Nigeria, the officials and players had their COVID-19 tests, which all came out negative.
Team coach Fatai Amoo has expressed his determination to lead his boys to victory over the Ivorian youngsters on Wednesday.
“We wanted the players to shake – off the travel stress and get their bodies physically conditioned for the task ahead against Ivory Coast, and the focus is to win the game,” Amoo told the NFF.
“We want Nigerians here in Togo and back home to support the team. The players are determined, very eager to learn, and we hope for a favourable result against Ivory Coast on Wednesday.”
Nigeria are the most successful team at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, riding to glory on five occasions. The Golden Eaglets lifted the world title in 1985, 1993, 2007, 2013, and 2015.
Ivory Coast’s best outing at the cadet Mundial is a third-place finish in Canada in 1987.
Head To Head
Nigeria’s cadet team and their Ivorian counterparts have met in only three official games, with the Golden Eaglets recording just one victory, losing once in open play and the other on penalties.
However, the last matchup between the two teams ended in a 5-1 Nigerian triumph at the 2018 Africa U17 Cup of Nations.
Match Venue and Time
The Eaglets’ encounter against the Baby Elephants is scheduled to take place at the Stade Municipal in Lome, Togo.
The match kicks off at 5 pm Nigerian time on Wednesday.
Two attacking teams go up against each other, with both knowing a win in this match could be enough to make it to the competition’s semifinals.
The Golden Eaglets are favourites to secure a victory but expect both goalkeepers to pick the ball from the nets at some point.
Tip: Both teams to score