By John Egbokhan
Coach Manu Garba is a devout Moslem. Humble and unassuming, Garba has steered the Eaglets to great heights at the 2013 FIFA u-17 World Cup final, which ended at the Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, with the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria beating Mexico 3 -0, which was a great show of football artistry by youngsters.

Both sides had met before in a Group F opener on October 19 at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain. In that encounter, the Eaglets brushed aside Mexico 6-1 in a one-sided match. The Nigerians would go on to score 23 goals on their way to yesterday’s finale.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 08: The Nigeria team celebrate their victory after the FIFA World Cup UAE 2013 Final between Nigeria and Mexico at Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium on November 8, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (FIFA/FIFA)

The Eaglets have been so good in this tournament holding in the United Arab Emirates, a country in Asia, the same continent that has hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup thrice and which Nigeria have won also thrice but remarkably on Asian soil.

From the maiden edition in 1985 in China to the Japan 1993 spectacle to the South Korea 2007 show-stopper, Nigeria have found joy in Asia, a point that was not lost on Coach Garba, who at all media conferences he attended, always stressed that Asia has been good to Nigeria.

Speaking after the Eaglet smashed three goals past Sweden in the semifinal on Tuesday in Dubai, a poignant Garba said that “Asia has always been good to us in this tournament. All the titles we won in
this competition were done on Asian soil and by the grace of Allah, we would win the Cup again in UAE, another Asian country”.

So firm in his belief, Garba has turned out to be a clairvoyant here. All his words have come to pass and it is the uncommon optimism that has infested his players, who are always buzzing for goals. A strong attacking team with highly talented players, the Eaglets represent another golden generation that truly have found another horizon of achievement in Asia.

Garba added that he hopes that this generation of players will go on to do the nation proud in the senior national teams. “We hope to keep the boys together and make them a force to reckon with in the future.

They are good and need more work on to make them better. It is the beginning of the journey for us and it is good that is starting from an Asian soil, where it began in 1985, when the first set of Eaglets won the cup in China”, said Garba.



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