By John Egbokhan, Calabar
Golden Eaglets players yesterday rose in unison to chorus that Korea Republic cannot stop their dream of remaining in the chase of the historic 4th FIFA U-17 World Cup crown when both teams square up in a quarter-final duel today at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
The Eaglets, who are the defending champions, are worked up in what promises to be a thrilling and fast-paced football contest against the Asians who despite not having won the trophy since its inception in 1985, have shown great promises that they can hold their own against good teams of the on-going tournament in Nigeria. The Koreans, only last week, claimed the scalp of the 2005 champions, Mexico, in a 2nd round fixture.
They came from a goal down to nick in the equaliser in stoppage time, and went on to win through penalties after scores were tied 1-1 at the end of extra time.With this remarkable feat, Korea go into this match with
Nigeria with a lot of confidence which is also aplenty in the Nigerian camp.
Speaking in separate interviews with Sports Vanguard, some of the key players who are expected to play pivotal roles in todayâ€™s match said they have come too far and wouldnâ€™t want to leave at the quarter-final stage.
Captain Fortune Chukwudi, who has been a strong figure in the heart of the Nigerian defence said that, â€œWe are going to play this match with all the seriousness it deserves.â€ He said further that â€œwe canâ€™t afford to fail because we have done so much to get to this point in our career.â€
Striker Edafe Egbedi, who scored two goals against New Zealand said, â€œI just wish to contribute my best by scoring against Korea and hope my goal will help my team to victory.â€
Also, goalkeeper Dammy Paul, who has shown traits of a good goal keeper in the making, promised to keep a clean sheet when Korea attack his goal line.
â€œI know that we can do it. We have trained hard and our coach has inspired us. I feel this is our turn to give our best. On my part, I hope that I will not concede any goal, and pray that my team triumph.â€
Midfielder Stanley Okoro, who scored the first goal against New Zealand, said that his best will be unleashed against Korea.
â€œI thank God that I scored against New Zealand because many people expected me to do well and it was not easy to live up to expectation, but I felt relieved when I scored against New Zealand and I hope more of that kind of performance will be seen against Korea. My best is yet to come. Expect more from me.â€
Super-sub Sanni Emmanuel said that he will always try to give his best whenever he is called upon. â€œI am not the coach but I will always accept any role that the coach gives me to uplift my team.â€
The Calabar fans are already in a frenzy for todayâ€™s match.