Golden Eaglets On The Rise Again

Golden Eaglets On The Rise Again

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Taofeek Lawal Olayemi

All things being equal, the national under 17, the Golden Eaglets, will open the African Youth Championship (AYC) on Sunday in far away Dar es Salam against the host, Tanzania, incidentally being coached by former Nigerian international and 1994 African Football of the Year, Emmanuel Amuneke.

After a hiatus, the five-time winner of global cadet competition are returning to the continent and hopefully should pick one of the four tickets available to represent Africa at the U-17 World Cup in Brazil later in the year. The ticket to the U-17 AYC and the World Cup with due respect to others should be Nigeria’s birthright going by the team’s pedigree in cadet competitions. However, lessons must have been learnt for missing out the last time and this is the time for experienced youth football coach, Manu Garba, to prove his mettle again with the future Eagles. I trust in the ability of Garba’s backroom staff of which one of them, Bunmi Blair is my good friend and brother.
What the Eagles needed is to win two games and fly to Brazil but I advise that they take each game at a time and should not underrate or look down on any of their group A opponents – Tanzania, Uganda and Angola. The Golden Eaglets secured their ticket to Tanzania after winning the WAFU B U-17 Tournament in Niger Republic in September last year.

Nigeria goes into today’s draw in pot 1 which comprises the likes of Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. The joy however is that the Super Eagles will not meet any of the countries in the pot all of them former AFCON champions at different times except Senegal who nonetheless are the most dreaded team in Africa now with their array of stars. The draw will hold in CAF Headquarters in Cairo, behind the famous Giza Pyramids at 7pm Nigerian time.

It is not yet Uhuru for the Nigeria as pot 2 has DR Congo, Ghana, Mali, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Nigeria. South Africa, Uganda, Benin, Mauritania, Madagascar and Kenya are in pot 3 while pot 4 has Zimbabwe, Namibia, Guinea Bissau, Angola, Tanzania and Burundi. It thus means that the Super Eagles can be grouped alongside any of the counties in the other pots.

My mind tells me Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania (with Emmanuel Amuneke as chief coach) will be in the same group with Nigeria. We have been away for too long in AFCON since winning in 2013 in South Africa under Stephen Keshi of blessed memory. We missed out in 2015 and 2017 and regardless of whom we are grouped with, it is time for Coach Gernot Rohr’s and his boys to win the AFCON trophy in the land of the Pharaohs. The 2019 AFCON is the biggest in the history of the competition with 24 teams.

Osaze’s next level
It gladdens my heart when Peter Osaze Odemwengie revealed the next chapter of his life; coaching. The former West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City and Stoke City striker was in Nigeria with the FIFA for the tour of the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy held at the prestigious Transcorp Hotel in Abuja.

He announced his retirement from football on April 3 at the UEFA’s Equal Game conference staged at the Wembley Stadium. “The next chapter is slowly building up to a coaching career and hopefully I will be coaching in the Premier League one day,” he had said.

He confirmed this while he was speaking with the sporting media in Abuja yesterday (April 11, 2019). Osaze, whose last club was Madura United in Indonesia, was capped by Nigeria 63 times and scored 10 goals. It is indeed the next level for the ‘Nigerian Oyinbo’ I wish Osaze all the best.

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