Nduka Ugbade, head coach of the Golden Eaglets, has expressed his thoughts on his team’s upcoming group stage matches at the U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Algeria.
The coach described the group as tough and stated that his team will take each game as it comes, planning to win each game rather than focusing on winning the entire tournament.
The Eaglets are set to make their tenth appearance in the tournament and hope to end a 16-year U17 AFCON trophy drought.
The West Africans secured their place in the tournament after beating Cote D’Ivoire in the semi-finals of the WAFU B, followed by a 2-1 victory over Burkina Faso in the final.
The Golden Eaglets will face Morocco, Zambia, and South Africa in Group B, a group that has been dubbed the “group of death” by bookmakers due to the quality of the teams.
The team will play their group games in Constantine, Algeria, with their first match against Zambia on April 30th.
Nduka Ugbade, who previously served as Nigeria’s U-17 deputy coach, has assembled a squad of mostly home-based players for the tournament. The coach has a clear idea of what he expects from his team and will be hoping to replicate their performance in the WAFU B, where they emerged champions.
“It’s quite interesting,” Ugbade told CAFOnline. “We have always been waiting for this moment. We will face every team as they come. One after the other. We are not talking about winning the AFCON. We are talking and planning about winning each match. One after the other. We will fight.
“That’s most probably the toughest group. I have an idea of West, South, North, and East African football. These are great nations, but we are going to prepare ourselves for the onslaught. Every one of those teams will feel Nigeria.
“We have respect and a little fear knowing that we can lose. So with that, we have to prepare so it doesn’t come to pass losing.”
Nigeria are among the most successful nations at the CAF U17 Afcon with two titles, but the Golden Eaglets have not won the trophy since 2007 – 16 years ago.