AFCON U-17: ‘We Are Good To Go’ – Manu Garba
Golden Eaglets coach Manu Garba faced the cameras on Saturday afternoon at the pre-match press conference ahead of todays’s opening match of the U17 Africa Cup of Nations against Tanzania at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam and here declared that the team “is good to go” as he has no injury concernes, Bestchoicesports.com.ng understands.
Here’s every word the 2013 U17 World Cup-winning manager said to the media
Difficulty of playing the opening match against the hosts, Tanzania ?
I think all first matches are difficult, not only playing against the host team but in all the competitions I have participated in, our first matches have been very, very good.
I can easily recall that in 2012/2013 when we had our opening match in Morocco against Ghana, it was 6-1 against Ghana.
In Dubai during the World Cup, we beat the defending champions Mexico 6-1 in the opening match. Then in 2015 against Senegal at U20 level, in Dakar we beat Senegal 3-1, I was in charge.
Tomorrow, it will not be difficult by the special grace of Almighty Allah.
Nigeria have not won the U17 Africa Cup of Nations since 2007?
Fortunately I was part of the team that won in 2007 in Togo before we went on to win the World Cup and I think this is part of our aspiration but the most important thing is to take every game as it comes.
Our aspirations is go to the World Cup and we want to try as much as possible to go the World Cup as African champions God willing.
Why did Nigeria not qualify for the last U17 Africa Cup of Nations?
Nigeria didn’t qualify for the last edition because we lost to Niger but I don’t want to go back to that because so many things went wrong.
This time around, CAF changed the format whereby you have to play a regional tournament. With the likes of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger, you can see how difficult it was to go past the group stage.
God willing, this time around, we want to try as much as possible to go to the World Cup.
If you are following the records, Nigeria is rated the number one in the world at U17 level, we have to maintain that standard by picking the next trophy in Africa and the world, God willing.
Any injuries in camp?
Not at all, we are good to go. Everybody is fit for the tournament.
Do you know anything about the Tanzanian team?
I was fortunate to see the Tanzanian team in Antalya during the UEFA Assist U17 tournament, they are a good side, a young side.
They are not a bad team, they play very good football, they play the normal passing game which is being played all over the world now, they are a good side.
I would have loved for Nigeria and Tanzania to go through the group stage so we make the World Cup finals.
Are the Golden Eaglets players under pressure?
They don’t know what is pressure because every fan that comes want to appreciate good football.
If we are playing better than Tanzania, fans will go back to support Nigeria, that’s how football is being played all over the world.
Their concentration will be on the game and the referee’s whistle. It is even the Tanzanians that will be under pressure because when they are not doing fine, fans will root against them, so Nigeria is not going to be under pressure.