WAFU Tournament: Golden Eaglets Battle Junior Elephants For 2023 U-17 AFCON Ticket
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By Ebube Dike
Head Coach Nduka Ugbade has assured that Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets will go all out against their Ivorian counterparts in Tuesday’s first semi final match of the ongoing WAFU B U-17 Championship in Cape Coast, Ghana.
The winner of the match will qualify for the 2023 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON holding in Algeria
Both teams take to the pitch of the 15,000 –capacity facility at 3pm Ghana time (4pm Nigeria time) before the second semi final between hosts Ghana and Burkina Faso at the same venue.
“The match against Cote d’Ivoire is of high importance to us. In fact, I have reminded the players that this one is the biggest match of their lives. They must win to secure a ticket to the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, and from there to the U-17 World Cup, and from there to several opportunities and possibilities.
“Whatever we have done here (beating Ghana and Togo) will not mean much if we don’t go all out and grab our ticket to the AFCON and to the Final. We will throw everything into the fray.”
The Eaglets, five-time world champions, decimated Ghana’s Black Starlets 4-2 in the tournament opener and then eased past Togo’s Young Sparrowhawks 3-1 to finish as Group A winners. The Ivorians finished as runners-up of Group B, dominated by Burkina Faso’s Young Etalons.
Victory in Tuesday’s encounter will send the Eaglets into the Final and with an opportunity to reclaim the WAFU B U17 title they won in Niamey, Niger Republic four years ago. It also provides the Nigerian youngsters a revenge platform against the Ivorians, who defeated them in the Final of the same competition in Lome early last year.
Both Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire qualified for the Africa U17 Cup of Nations from that tournament but the event was cancelled as hosts Morocco developed cold feet with the covid-19 pandemic still biting in some countries.
Meanwhile, President of the Ghana Football Association, Simeon Kurt-Okraku on Sunday visited the camp of the Golden Eaglets in his capacity as President of WAFU B region. He reminded the lads that Nigeria belongs to the top echelon of football –playing nations on the African continent, and has produced so many world –class players. He charged the boys to always adhere to the instructions of their coaches in order to grow, advance and excel in the beautiful game.