Nigeria Under-17 team coach, John Obuh, has expressed confidence that the country will put up a credible performance at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, despite a recent age cheating scandal in which 15 members of the squad were discovered to be above the age allowed for the competition.
Nigeria will stage this yearâ€™s tournament from October 24 to November 15, but sceptics have said the countryâ€™s chances of successfully defending the crown they won in 2007 have been compromised by half the squadâ€™s disqualification.
â€œThe recent age test is a good thing and a welcome idea which everybody appreciates. We have to get together and work a lot harder. We are still very positive about achieving success at the World Cup,â€ Obuh told Goal.com.
â€œI am optimistic that if the boys put up the same fighting spirit they showed in some of our friendly games, especially against the Flying Eagles [the national Under-20 team] recently, I am sure this episode will not affect our overall performance in the tournament.â€
He added, â€œThe team is not 100 per cent yet. We are just past the halfway mark and hopefully before the World Cup we should be close to our full potential.â€
In the meantime, the Nigeria U-17 team, known as the Golden Eaglets, are set to embark on a European tour that will see them engage top countries like England and Austria in warm-up games.
â€œWe are scheduled to play friendly matches against Uruguay, England, Austria and Gambia. We expect to leave the country this weekend,â€ said Obuh.Nigeria are drawn in Group A of the U-17 World Cup, along with Argentina, Germany and Honduras.