Golden Eaglets’ assistant coach, Emmanuel Amuneke has said that the team would be ready to take on Niger Republic in the first round fixture of the 10th African Under17 Championship to be held in Morocco in 2013.
CAF released fixtures of the tournament Saturday with the Golden Eaglets going for the away game on the weekend of September 7 and 9, 2012 while the reverse home fixture comes up at the weekend of September 21 and 23.
“It is an interesting fixture for us because Niger are our neighbours and they have shown in recent times that they are a force to be reckoned with but we are going to be ready for them.
“This indeed is an interesting fixture giving the fact that both Nigeria and Niger failed to qualify for the last two editions of the African Under17 Championship,” Amuneke said.
Amuneke reckons that the work of the Eaglets’ coaching crew is already cut out.
While the Eaglets were eliminated from the 2009 Championship held in Algeria and were taken out of the 2011 by Congo following a 1-3 aggregate loss, Niger met their end in 2011 when they were disqualified from the tournament in Rwanda for fielding an over-aged player.”
“We have to respect Niger because every team wants to appear at a tournament and playing against us would fire them up but we will be ready for them.
“Our philosophy is that we are going to take one game at a time.
“Our first priority is to raise a very good team and that is why we are taking a painstaking effort in screening of the players.
“We have seen some good players but football is not played on the pages of newspapers, it is instructive that we prepare our boys very well because this is the first time they would be having the opportunity to play an international match.
“The truth is that many of the countries that so many people no longer considered to be strong are creating waves across the continent.
“The fact that Niger were at the last African Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea is an indication that we have to take them seriously.
“We would do our best and pray that God bless all our collective efforts,” added Amuneke, the 1994 African Footballer of the Year.
Meanwhile, Caf has already drawn Guinea bye to the second round to meet the winner of the first round fixture between Nigeria and Niger.
The tournament would be rounded off with the third round fixtures in December.