In comparison to other teams at the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup, there is cause for optimism that Nigeria Golden Eaglets could go on to win a record 5th title in Chile, going by their performance so far. The Emmanuel Amunike-led Eaglets have already qualified for the next stage of the competition after winning their first two games, albeit, not against the biggest football names. They have performed commendably, but going all the way will require that certain observations be addressed, going forward.
The defence has been very resilient, with good support from the midfield while the attack has improved greatly with each game, Samuel Chukwueze providing another dimension (with his pace, direct running and of course goal scoring ability) to compliment the high work rate of Funsho Bamgboye, Chukwudi Agor and the finishing of Victor Osimhen in attack.
These notwithstanding, there was a momentous loss of concentration on which Chilean Captain Marcelo Allende brilliantly capitalized for the Chilean goal – the only the Eaglets have conceded so far. Several more such highly talented players lie in wait in the latter stages.
Eaglets skipper Kelechi Nwakali is exhibiting some tendencies of overconfidence and has also been unreliable in his penalty-taking responsibilities. Left back Udochukwu Anumudu has been one of the stand-out players in this team, but two bookings in two games marks him out as a red-card waiting to happen in the very crucial knockout stages.
Yes, they are young players and exuberance is inevitable. Unfortunately, this may prove costly as the Eaglets approach the knockout stages were one wrong turn could be fatal, if not addressed now.
The competition is only going to get tougher with every game hence, and so the players must be prepared not just tactically but psychologically for the challenges ahead.
Coach Emmanuel Amunike should therefore do well to work on the totality of his boys performances if they are to go cart home the U17 trophy next month.