There was a carnivalÂ like atmosphere at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday evening as cultural dance troupes welcomed the Nigeria U-17 team, Golden Eaglets, to the city where they will start the defence of their FIFA U-17 World Cup title on Saturday.
Chairman of the Abuja Sub â€“seat of the Local Organising Committee for the tournament, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, led the colourful reception party that
ushered the Eaglets into the Federal Capital Territory.
Nigeria, cup holders, have the big opportunity to become only the second country to successfully defend the trophy, when they host the tournament 24 October â€“ 15 November in eight designated cities across the most populous black nation on earth.
Brazil, no less, is the only country to have successfully defended the title in its 24 â€“year history, after she followed up triumph in Egypt in 1997 with another victory in New Zealand two years later.
Nigeria won the inaugural edition of the competition, when it was staged as U-16 World Championship in China in 1985, but lost on penalties in the final to Soviet Union in Canada in 1987. Saudi Arabia won in Scotland in 1989, Ghana won the first U-17 event in Italy in 1991 and Nigeria stormed back with a vengeance in 1993, beating Ghana in the final in Tokyo.
Ghana overpowered Brazil to win in Ecuador in 1995, Brazil took the trophy in Egypt in 1997 and in New Zealand in 1999. France beat Nigeria in the final in Trinidad and Tobago in 2001, Brazil beat Spain to win in Finland in 2003 and Mexico shocked all to lift the trophy in Peru two years later.
Nigeria beat Spain on penalties in a cracker of a final in Seoul, Korea Republic two years ago.
Nigeriaâ€™s team to this tournament had a twoâ€“week final training camp at the worldâ€“famous Aspire Academy in Qatar, and will first file out against Germany at the National Stadium, Abuja, on Saturday evening.Also in town are Honduras, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, Germany, Gambia, Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland.