By John Egbokhan, reporting from UAE
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) officials have tipped the Golden Eaglets for victory in Tuesday’s round of 16 match against Iran at the Kalifa Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain City.
NFF assistant secretary in charge technical department, Emmanuel Ikpeme told reporters here that the Iranians were not strong enough to contend with the superior play of the Nigerians, who he said were getting better with each game.
“I see our boys getting to the final. Iran cannot withstand our boys. We are as good as already in the quarterfinal and I am sure that our boys will give a very good account of themselves on Tuesday”, said Ikpeme.
Coach Manu Garba said that Nigerians can expect more goals and improved performance from the Golden Eaglets.
The team, finished the group stage with a 5-0 spanking of Iraq at the Rashin Stadium in Dubai, to win Group F with seven points. They scored an amazing 14 goals while conceding four.
With such impressive record, the Eaglets are already one of the favourites for the title.
“We are very happy to be here so far. We thank Allah for this and think that we are on course to doing better.” We will play better in our subsequent matches. As the competition progresses the team would always get better”, added Garba.
He also admitted that the players made some mistakes in the second half in the game against Iraq because of the high intensity with which they started the match with.
“We made some mistakes even though we scored four goals in the first half. But it was so because the boys played the first 20 minutes with a lot of intensity. But we would address these issues before our next game”, Garba said.
All four African teams qualified for the Round of 16. Africa’s other representatives are African champions Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Morocco.