The Nigeria U-17 National Team, Golden Eaglets have received a big boost ahead of their final Match against Mali at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 as they spoke live with President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), on Saturday.
It was gathered that the live telephone conversation with players and officials was at the instance of NFF President Amaju Pinnick.
PMB, who was Military Head of State 30 years ago when Nigeria won the inaugural FIFA cadet World Cup in China, and actually gave the team the sobriquet ‘Golden Eaglets,’ tasked the players to win the Cup again and make the country proud.
The President, in chat with players and officials of the team via Skype aided with telephone, said Nigerians were behind them and expect that they will bring the trophy home yet again. His Excellency took his turn to speak with each and every player and official, thanking them for a job well done so far and urging them to do everything humanly possible to emerge victorious (against Mali) in order to set Nigeria on the path of glory.
Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke and Captain Kelechi Nwakali, assured Mr. President that the entire team was ready for the final against their West African rivals, and promised to give everything needed to win the trophy in order to “bring smiles to the faces of our people.”
Amuneke said: “It is a great pleasure speaking with you, Mr. President, and we want to assure you that we are going to do our best against Mali on Sunday to successfully defend the trophy.”
The session ended with a soul-lifting rendition of the National Anthem together with Mr. President
The current leading scorer at the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, Victor Osimhen has stated that his priority remains to win the trophy for Nigeria rather than actualize his prospect of breaking the Championship’s nine-goal record.
Only on Thursday, the gangling striker equalled the long standing record of nine goals in a single tournament jointly held by Frenchman Florent Sinama Pongolle and Ivorian Souleymane Coulibaly who were top scorers at the global cadet championship at Trinidad & Tobago 2001 and Mexico 2011 respectively.
But rather than belabouring himself on breaking the record, Osimhen said he would trade the record for the trophy.
“I’m happy that I was able to match the record set by others in the past but that was never my ambition here,” said Osimhen, on the books of Lagos Ultimate Strikers.”
“The most important thing is for us to win the trophy on Sunday and that would be the greatest achievement for us.” He added.
Osimhen opened his Chile 2015 tally with a goal in the 2-0 win over the USA on the opening day. He continued with a brace in the 5-1 defeat of host Chile and was also Nigeria’s scorer in the 2-1 loss to Croatia in the group phase.
The stage is set for an all-Africa final at the the ongoing FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile as the Nigeria U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets came from behind to beat Mexico 4-2 in a thrilling semi final match in the early hours of Friday.
Having enjoyed a better start at the Estadio Municipal Ester RoaConcepcion, the Mexicans drew the first blood eight minutes into the game through Kevin Magana.
After going down to an early goal, the Coach Emmanuel Amuneke tutored side gradually settled into the game and in the 35th minute they were back levelled when Captain Kelechi Nwakali masterfully curled in a free kick from outside the box.
The equaliser sure gave the Eaglets the needed boost as eight minutes later they were in front, this time it was Orji Okonkwo who rocketed in a shot to give Nigeria a 2-1 lead going into the half time break.
Nigeria started the second half quite brightly and even hit the upright in their quest to extend their lead.
However it was Mexico that scored first in the second half again and it was a classical goal from Diego Cortes who wriggled through the Nigeria defence before rounding up the keeper to score one of the best goals at the Chile tournament.
The Eaglets dusted up themselves yet agan as they set out to restore their lead and their efforts paid off in the 67th minute when Ebere Osinachi made and attempt from a difficult angle and the Mexican goalkeeper helped the ball into his own net.
Nigeria made sure they killed the game in the 83rd minute when a penalty kick was awarded to the Eaglets and Victor Oshimen calmly slotted in the ball to register his ninth goal of the tournament which now makes him the joint record holder of goals at the cadet championships.
With this, the stage is now set for an all African final, as Mali earlier reached their first ever FIFA U-17 World Cup final courtesy of a resounding come-from-behind 3-1 victory against Belgium.
The final comes up on Sunday at the Estadio Sausalito Vina Del Mar
Head Coach of the Golden Eaglets, Emmanuel Amuneke has been honoured with an award by the Chiguayante community in Concepcion, Chile.
The award, according to the organizers, was in recognition of the Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach’s feat in leading a team to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015.
Indeed, Amuneke has been a subject of praise especially as he has continued to be a silent achiever with the Eaglets.
The Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick has also hailed the style of Amuneke; adding that the gaffer has earned respect for himself with way he has carried out his present assignment
“I am very excited with the way the team has played so far, raising our country’s flag very high. The Head Coach (Emmanuel Amuneke) has shown tremendous maturity and has managed the team and everything around it brilliantly.
“Amuneke is the kind of person you would naturally recommend for higher responsibilities. He has clearly rubbished all insinuations and dark innuendoes against him and has continued to do a marvellous job quietly. He has earned his respect.”
Meanwhile, the Eaglets will by midnight take on Mexico’s U-17 at the 30,000 –capacity Estadio Municipal Ester Roa in Concepcion, with the prospect of a second –ever all-African final looming large in the South American nation.
The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria have been slammed with an age-cheating allegation by erstwhile Mexico U17 Coach Raúl Gutiérrez.
Gutiérrez was in charge when the 2013 set of Eaglets beat Mexico twice en-route to being crowned champions in the United Arab Emirates.
And while the Golden Eaglets have been outstanding at the ongoing tournament in Chile, Gutiérrez suggests that there is much to meet the eye as he posited that the Eaglets aside their physical attributes take decisions that are not expected of true u17 players.
Gutiérrez also made same accusation against the Mali team that have also booked their place in the semi final.
“It’s the same with the Nigeria team, so with Mali, that beyond the physical development; decisions made by many of their players are not of an U17 player. the coach told mediotiempo.com.
Despite his fears, though, Gutiérrez said he believes Mexico can beat Nigeria when both countries meet in the semi-finals on Thursday (12am Friday, Nigeria time), but admitted that it will be difficult.
“Sure we can beat them, every game is different and safe for our team will be different than the other generations, I think Mexico can have a good result on Thursday.
“In football nothing is written, everyone already knows that the game will be complex, we will face an opponent with a winning record, but you must play the game, the matches are defined on the field and have to think that way,” says Gutiérrez.
Defending champions, Nigeria have secured a berth in the semi finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup ongoing in Chile after the Golden Eaglets thrashed South American giants, Brazil 3-0 on Sunday night.
Five minutes of brilliance and perhaps luck in the first half was all Nigeria required to make into to the semis as the Eaglets punished the Brazilians with three quick goals.
One of the biggest revelation in the Nigeria team, Victor Oshimen got the curtain raiser as he broke the deadlock in the 29th minute to register his eighth goal of the tournament.
Kinglsey Micheal then popped up and doubled the advantage for Nigeria moments later with a nice volley before Udochukwu Anumudu in the 34th minute effectively killed the game with a long range effort which the Brazilian fluffed into his net.
Brazil’s attempt for a possible second half revival was met with strong resistance by the Eaglets who held their nerves to become the first team to make it to the semi finals of the ongoing tournament in Chile.
They Eaglets who have their eyes on a fifth title for Nigeria will now head to Concepcion for Thursday’s semi-final against the winner of tomorrow’s quarter-final between Ecuador and Mexico
Golden Eaglets captain Kelechi Nwakali is eager to follow the footsteps of his older brother Chidiebere who won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013.
“I was in the pre-World Cup training squad in 2013 but I didn’t make the squad that went on to win the trophy,” Kelechi said in an interview with FIFA.com.
“My brother Chidiebere was there, though, and of course I felt proud and happy for the other players.
“I had to train at the academy and it would have been impossible for me to go. I didn’t have any contact with him during the tournament because he had to focus on playing. Obviously, I watched all the games on TV though.”
Eighteen months younger than his sibling, Kelechi was not even at home to welcome the returning hero, with football once again the culprit:
“I was away playing in a tournament and I only saw him a week later. We spoke about everything and he said that what drove him on the most was his desire to make the people of Nigeria happy.”
Now the current Nigeria playmaker is burning with the desire to also win and return home as a hero from Chile.
He added: “We came here to retain the trophy. We want to win the title and we haven’t come for anything less.”
After topping their group and spanking Australia 6-0 in the round of 16, ghe Eaglets have raised expectations back home.
The Nigeria U 17 team, the Golden Eaglets will be battling against Australia in the Round of 16 in the ongoing FIFA U17 World Cup taking place in Chile.
The Eaglets will hope they can get past Australia who finished third in Group C behind Mexico and Germany.
The Nigeria, Australia tie will be played on Wednesday, which will be early Thursday in Nigeria.
Already, the Nigeria U17 team have since arrived in Vina del Mar where preparations is underway for the tricky Round of 16 fixture.
The Coach Emmanuel Amuneke tutored side started with a training session on Sunday and will also train twice on Monday and once on Tuesday
The winner of the Nigeria, Australia clash will advance to the quarterfinals to face the winners of another quarterfinal between Brazil and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Mali the other African team through to the Round 16 will be facing hosts Chile, the Young Eagles will hope they can follow the footsteps of the Eaglets who thrashed the hosts 5-1 in the group phase.
Other Round of 16 pairings are:
Brazil vs New Zealand
Mexico vs Chile
Korea vs Belgium
Croatia vs Germany
Mali vs Korea DPR
Russia vs Ecuador
France vs Costa Rica
Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 team, Emmanuel Amuneke has declared that he would like to see some improvements in his team even as he conceded that Croatia deserved the 2-1 win recorded in their final group game against the Golden Eaglets early Saturday morning.
Amuneke in his post match assessment submitted that while the Golden Eaglets wanted a win, they were simply not at their best against the Croats who needed victory more to stay in contention at the ongoing FIFA U-17 tournament in Chile.
“My players wanted to win, but we were not the best tonight. The Croats have asked us many problems. They prevented us from playing our game and deserved to win. My players are very talented, but still have room for improvement collectively,” Amuneke stated.
Nikola Moro was the inspiration behind Croatia’s victory against Nigeria in Coquimbo, the Dinamo Zagreb schemer set up both goals in their 2-1 come-from-behind victory which sealed their progress to the knockout stages for the first time.
This is the second time the Eaglets are losing to Croatia in the last 30 days. The Eaglets lost to the East Europeans 3-2 at the Suwon Cup in Argentina