Nigeria’s under-17 team has been seeded in the same group as South Africa, Zambia, and Morocco for the AFCON competition in April.
The head coach of the Nigerian under-17 national team, Nduka Ugbade, has said that his squad is prepared for the African Cup of Nations competition.
The coach made clear his goals for the next competition, which included winning the first three games to advance his team to the next round of the competition.
The Eaglets were seeded in Group B together with South Africa, a first-time participant, and Zambia at the draw ceremony conducted at the Cercle National de l’Armée in Algiers.
The West African giants have won the u-17 AFCON twice, in 2001 and 2007, and the Golden Eaglets are the most successful cadet team in the globe with five trophies.
Notwithstanding, the 53-year-old manager identifies nations that might be a tough nut to crack.
“Morocco is a team that is known from North Africa, and North African football is known to me very well. And considering what they’ve just done in the World Cup that we all in Africa are proud of. I think their under-17 will be clearly motivated to do this as well, and recently they’ve been playing in friendly matches as well (In preparation for this competition).
Then again, South African football has suddenly exploded into a very beautiful footballing nation. That one, too, is something that is supposed to get us to be worried a bit, and Zambia, we’ve always known for good football. They are these three nations are from the altitude, so they will have enough strength, enough speed, enough endurance as well and power to compete, but knowing that we have won the World Cup about five times and that we are favorites for the competition as a whole, we’re not looking at our group alone.” says the coach.
Speaking about his strategies for overcoming challenges in the next competition, the former Calabar rovers star said.
“In as much as the first team, we have to try to counter our first, second, and third match and qualify for the next stage of the quarter-finals. And after winning that, we can establish some authority in the semi-finals and see if we get to the finals.”
The coach did, however, admit that his squad does not have a crippling dread of the other teams they will play in the event.
“We will not be participating, we will be competing, and in our competition or competitiveness, we will join the contenders because we are already a strong nation that is known to have won the trophy or several locations. I don’t think that this will be the difference. Then, as I said to you before, if you’re going to a competition like this, if you do not have fear, you are not prepared. We have fear, more than not, that will cripple us. It is that will create an unbelievable performance when we have the opportunity to face any of the teams in the competition.” Ugbade said.
The 15th African Cup of Nations, which will begin on April 29 and go until May 19, is where the Nigeria U-17 national team will start its quest for a record-breaking third title.