By Patrick Omorodion
The Federation of International Football Federations (FIFA) has listed four matches which it described as â€œintriguing fixturesâ€ in the group stage of the Under-17 World Cup scheduled for eight Nigerian cities in October as ones football lovers should look forward to.
And one of them, no doubt, is the opening cracker between host, the Golden Eaglets who are the reigning champions of the competition and Germany.
FIFA states on its website that the draw which pitched the Eaglets against Germany in Group A â€œdid not smile kindly on the hosts as the Golden Eaglets will also have to face Argentina and Honduras in their section.â€
According to FIFA, the draws â€œset up some fantastic encounters, filling the group stage with a number of intriguing fixtures, not least the opening match between Nigeria and Germany.
Other encounters FIFA expects to be thrilling and â€œsure to light up the group stage, (are) the games between Brazil and Japan, Spain and USA, and Uruguay and Italy (which) look just as likely to produce fireworks.â€
It added that â€œif suspense was the order of the day in the run-up to the draw, that has now given way to expectation. So roll on 24 October and the start of what looks certain to be a superb festival of footballâ€.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan admitted to feeling honoured to see his country host such an important tournament as he thanked â€œFIFA for having believed in us and having made this project a reality.â€ he said.
On his part, the Sports Minister/Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Engineer Sani Ndanusa, promised that, â€œAs with this draw, Nigeria is ready to do its best to make this tournament a peaceful event and something that will leave a legacy for the whole country in terms of development and sport.â€
The drawÂ was conducted by FIFA Director of Competitions, Jim Brown, who was assisted by some great Nigerian players like Mercy Akide, the first African to be named FIFA Womenâ€™s World Player of the Year, in 2002, who appeared in three FIFA Womenâ€™s World Cups as well asÂ Victor Ikpeba, Tijjani Babangida, Samson Siasia and goalkeeper Peter Rufa, who spurred the Super Eagles on to some of their greatest moments, includingÂ Nduka Ugbade, who captained the Nigerian side that won the very first FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1985.