Abuja – An official of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Siji Lagunju, on Friday in Abuja expressed optimism that the ongoing screening exercise for the Golden Eaglets would yield positive results.
Lagunju, who is a Chief Technical Officer with the association, sad that the team’s technical officials had already seen talents which could be groomed.
The team’s head coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, had on Wednesday, March 26 invited 35 players to an open screening camp ahead of the 2015 African U-17 Championship qualifiers.
Lagunju had been working alongside the team’s coaching crew at the FIFA Goal Project pitch at the Abuja National Stadium, the venue of the screening.
“Although, we just started the screening yesterday (Thursday), I can tell you that we have seen some talents here that can be trained to measure up to our standard.
“With this exercise, we hope to get a very good team that can win the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the country,’’ he said.
The former Super Eagles striker expressed optimism that the team’s present technical crew would come out of the screening with the best players for the country.
“The present coach, Amuneke, was in the technical crew which produced the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup-winning team, and I am sure he won’t deviate from that standard.
“He knows what it takes to do that and he has been up there among the best. So, he will do a good job,’’ he said.
Lagunju however declared that the team’s camp was still open for hitherto-uninvited players to display their talents, even though some players had already been sent home.
“As at yesterday (Thursday) morning when we started, we had over 500 players, and before the end of yesterday, over 300 were sent back.
“Most of them are either over-age or not talented, because the major criteria we are using is being within the 17 years of age and having talents of the game.
“But the camp is still open to players who want to show us the stuff they have,’’ he said.
The NFA official called on state governments to host the team for their closed door camping programme that will come up after the two weeks of open camping.
“This first phase of the screening, which is open, will last for two weeks after which we will start the closed camping when the players will be concentrated on.
“So, we will be glad if any state government offers to accommodate us for the second phase, so that we can have concentrated camping and training ahead of the qualifiers,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the Golden Eaglets had drawn bye into the second round of the qualifying competition of the championship billed for Niger Republic.
They will meet the winners of the first round tie between Burundi and Congo DR.
The first leg match is scheduled to hold between July 18 and July 20, while the second leg match is between Aug. 1 and Aug. 3.
NAN reports that the Golden Eaglets were runners-up at the 2013 edition of the championship in Morocco, after losing 4-5 to Cote d’Ivoire on penalty kicks.(NAN)