An Afcon qualifying ticket is on the line when Nigeria’s cadet team takes on their Ivorian counterpart in Ghana on Tuesday
Head coach Nduka Ugbade has called on the Golden Eaglets to put in their best against Cote d’Ivoire as it is a match that could decide how far many of them go in their football careers.
Nigeria will face defending champions Cote d’Ivoire at the Gold Coast Stadium on Tuesday in the semifinal of the WAFU B CAF u-17 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying tournament in Ghana.
The Golden Eaglets, with a hundred per cent winning record, are the slight favourites against the Young Elephants, who sneaked into the final four after losing two of their three group games.
But the Ivorians are the championship’s defending champions, having defeated Nigeria 3-2 in last year’s final in Togo.
More than exacting their revenge, the Golden Eaglets can book a place in the competition’s final with a win over their West African brothers.
Only the two finalists will make it to next year’s Afcon tournament proper in Algeria, where the four highest-ranked teams qualify for the next edition of the FIFA u-17 World Cup.
With a record five titles, Nigeria are the most successful nation in the world at that level, with the country’s last winning team producing the likes of Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze, and CSKA Moscow’s Chidera Ejuke, among others.
Former Nigeria international Ugbade understands the import of not making it to Algeria 2023, and he has charged his boys to fight for their lives and their careers when they take to the pitch against the Junior Elephants.
“The match against Cote d’Ivoire is of high importance to us,” Ugbade to the NFF.
“In fact, I have reminded the players that this one is the biggest match of their lives. They must win to secure a ticket to the U17 Africa Cup of Nations, and from there to the U17 World Cup, and from there to several opportunities and possibilities.
“Whatever we have done here (beating Ghana and Togo) will not mean much if we don’t go all out and grab our ticket to the AFCON and the Final. We will throw everything into the fray.”
Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire will slug it out on the pitch of the 15,000–capacity Cape Coast facility at 3 pm Ghana time (4 pm Nigeria time) before the second semi-final between hosts Ghana and Burkina Faso at the same venue.