By Patrick Omorodion with fifa reports
The Golden Eaglets begin their quest for a fourth FIFA U-17 title with their head coach, Manu Garba exhuding a burning confidence that could make all other coaches in the competition, especially his Group F opponents in Al Ain City of UAE cringe with fear.
Garba, himself a product of FIFA U-20 competition in 1983, boasted in an interview with fifa.com that his squad, made up of mainly amatuer players from youth teams or secondary schools, would be too hot for any team in the competition as “they play total football.”
Speaking with the hind sight of his boys’ 11-0 win over a Spanish club, Espanyol’s youth academy team during their preparation, Garba told fifa.com that “I don’t see any defence that can stop us. We know a World Cup is a different story, but, man, my attack is blistering. They can destroy any team on their day.”
Explaining what he meant by Total Football, the Eaglets coach who was assistant to late Yemi Tella when they won the title in Korea in 2007 said, “I give my players a special freedom, a freedom to express themselves. When we have the ball, we all attack. When we don’t, we all defend.
Take a chance; go forward, another man will cover you. All my players have the freedom to go anywhere, and it’s a responsibility they understand.”
According to Garba, the team, who have been together for a long time with some being dropped for failing the MRI test, are a young side without any league experience but are quick to learn and adapt to new ideas.
“They have no league experience. They are amateurs, they play for local teams, or at their secondary schools, but it is this youth that can make them very adaptable to new ideas,” he said, however, adding that “It’s not been an easy philosophy to pass on to these young boys.”
Speaking on the strength of the team who lost, against all predictions, to Cote d’Ivoire at the African Championship in Morocco, Garba said “We don’t rely on just a few players to score or lead. We have so many attacking options, we’ve multiplied them.
We can hurt you from all over the pitch. We’re not just 11 individuals playing a game. My players aren’t just numbers on a chalkboard. They are individuals with their own personalities. I have faith in them.”
On the expectation from their opening game against Mexico today, the Gombe-born coach said, “I like the way the Latin American teams play, the way they ping the ball around, it’s a lot like Ghana, a lot like us, but we can beat anyone.”
To undo the Mexicans who are the competition’s defending champions, the Eaglets’ technical crew will be relying on the scoring prowess of two players, Success Isaac and Kelechi Iheanacho from who they recorded 12 of the 18 goals they scored in Morocco.
Isaac who was drafted from Megapp Academy in Benin City scored seven of the goals while Iheanacho netted in five. Both players have been singled out by fifa as the two players from the Nigerian squad fans, as well as their opponents, should look out for when hostilities begin in Group F.