By Jacob Ajom
As the Golden Eaglets file out against Switzerland in today’s final of the Nigeria 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, most Nigerians are already dreaming a repeat of the 2007 final in Korea where the Nigerian representatives defeated Spain to cart home the coveted trophy.
Chief coach of the Nigerian team, John Obuh is one of those optimistic Nigerians looking forward to an encore.

Nigeria beat Spain 3-1 to advance to the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos. Nigeria players celebrating a goal during the game. Photo by Sylva Eleanya. 12/11/200.

The thinking would not be out of place for those who have a sound knowledge of the competition and particular for those who have followed this edition of the tournament. Nigeria have won the title thrice and, except for twice {in 1987 final when they lost to Russia and 2001 in Trinidad and Tobago when they lost to France), each time the team got to the final they won the title..

This year, everything points to another triumph for the Nigerians. The Eaglets as hosts have shown a lot of resilience, purposeful play and an uncommon knack for goals. The likes of Abdul Ajagun, Stanley Okoro,and super sub, Sani Emmanuel hardly get satisfaction if they play without scoring goals. And this delights the coach.

“My boys have come a long way,” Coach Obuh enthused after the team demolished a highly dreaded Spanish side, Thursday in Lagos.
The coach said his wish to get to the final had been achieved and it would be unfair to Nigerians if his boys failed to beat the Swiss and retain the trophy their predecessors won in Korea two years ago

“I told them it is a life time opportunity which must use well. If we do well it would be good for all of us but we will do the best to retain the trophy and keep it here in Nigeria for another two years,” an optimistic Obuh said ahead of today’s final.”

The Swiss coach, Dany Ryser was not bothered about the outcome of the final even as he expressed his wish to see his young side take the trophy away from Nigeria. By his reckoning, Switzerland have already had a memorable tournament. “We came here as underdogs, being first timers, but today, we have become one of the favourites. It was a dream to get to the final and right now anything can happen,” the Swiss tactician said.

Ryser has a strong army to surprise their hosts. With a strong European pattern that anchors on speed and precision, particularly in front of goal, the debutantes have grown to become fearsome.

They have won all their matches, leaving in their wake the likes of Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Italy with the last being Colombia.”I hope we go back as world champions. That’s the dream. But if we fail, I will congratulate the champions.”


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