By Patrick Omorodion
*Warns team on need for tactical discipline
AS the Golden Eaglets begin the defence of the FIFA U-17 World Cup title they won in South Korea in 2007 and chase history in the competition with Brazil, the first captain of the Eaglets who won the maiden edition of the competition in China in 1985, Nduka Ugbade has made one wish, that the trophy does not leave Nigeria.
Both the Eaglets and Brazil have won the competition three times and with Ghana, two time winners, not in the competition to equal their feat, both teams are in for a stiff fight to become the team with the most victories.
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard sports in his Lagos home during the week, Ugbade, picked as an Ambassador of the competition, said the opening match is one of interest to him because he led the 1985 squad to defeat Germany in the final to become the first person to lift the trophy at that level.
He however warned that the opening game would be very difficult because the Germans have an edge over Nigerian sides in endurance and discipline like was noticed during the U-20 World Cup in Egypt where the Flying Eagles lost to Germany 2-3 after going ahead twice.
â€œAs a Nigerian, I donâ€™t always want to have the believe that there is nothing impossible. I think the Nigerian U-17 team, with what Iâ€™ve heard, would be able to get to the final. And I hope that everything being equal, Nigeria will do well,â€he said.
Continuing however, Ugbade who disclosed that he is now a football educator, said, â€œItâ€™s going to be difficult but one thing Iâ€™ll tell you is this, talking about football technicalities and pace of the game, we have the Brazilian philosophy and therefore have an edge over the Germans. But when you talk of discipline, the Germans have an edge in endurance which we saw in the U-20.
In the U-17, we have defeated Germany twice, in the final in 1985 and the one they won in 2007 in South Korea. That is very possible, the only thing is that the boys must be very tactical. The strategies to play for that 90 minutes must not wither, the discipline to maintain pressure and consistency in all movement, must be well nurtured and we must develop a high mental skill so that as our opportunities come for goal scoring, we donâ€™t miss them, we utilise themâ€, he lectured.
He said that as European U-17 champions, he does not expect an easy game from the Germans but added that â€œI know that Nigeria can this time around beat Germany by 2-0 or 3-0 again.â€
The father of three pleaded with Nigerians not to transfer the anger they have for the Eagles on the Eaglets and advised that â€œwe must try as much as possible to always love and support ourselves even when we are failing.â€
He urged Nigerians to support the team with their resources and time and troop to the stadium to cheer the Eaglets so that â€œat the end we may have cause to be happy. It is my wish and desire to see the cup remain in Nigeria.â€
â€œWe thank God we are hosting the U-17 World Cup and I honestly want to thank FIFA for actually giving us the chance of wining it three times and bringing the competition to Nigeria. Nigeria is 49 this year and this same month we are hosting the U-17 World Cup. I honestly hope that the situation in Nigeria now will be better blessed and lifted up by us after seeing what happened with the U-20 team and some of the things we have seen so far with the senior team (the Eagles). I want to believe that the Eaglets will bring us the hope that we greatly desire.â€ Ugbade, who was denied the opportunity of making history as the first player to have gone through all FIFA competitions, said.
For more on what Ugbade said and plans to do for Nigeriaâ€™s football, stay hooked to Saturday Vanguard next week. Itâ€™s illuminating.