By Ben EFE
Nigeria’s Under-17 team, the Golden Eaglets have an uphill task on Saturday, when they tackle their Malian counterparts in the third round second leg CAF Under-17 Championship qualifiers billed for Bamako, Mali.
But team coach, Manu Garba said his wards are not losing any sleep. He assured worried Nigerian fans that the Eaglets will emerge from the game unscathed. The coach submitted that the pressure will be on the Malians to win the game and that will be an advantage to the Eaglets.
“The Malians will be looking for goals and so they will come and play. But we will not fold our arms as we plan to attack just like we did to Guinea and Niger Republic,” said Garba who was an assistant coach, when the Eagles won the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in South Korea in 2007.
He stated that the ultimate goal of his team was to reach the 2013 finals of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup billed for UAE and therefore the match in Bamako, Mali was not their terminal point.
However, the Eaglets must have to keep their nerves to fight off the expected onslaught from Mali. The Nigerian lads were 2-0 victors in the first leg decided at the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar, this was despite protestation from the Nigerian Federation about the true ages of the Malian team who had a bye to the second round.
The Eaglets have not lost a game in the qualifiers and they have the highest number of goals scored. Unlike the Malians who have been beaten twice in the series. They were also 2-1 by Mauritania in Nouakchott, but the Malians were ruthless in the return leg in Bamako with a 5-1 drubbing of their neighbors.
Former Eagles captain and FIFA Under-17 World Cup winner at Japan 1993, Nwankwo Kanu urged the team to overcome the fear factor in Bamako and continue with their free-scoring reign.