Emmanuel Amuneke, Golden Eaglets Head Coach, is supremely confident about his team’s chances to defend their FIFA U-17 World Cup despite being drawn against host Chile, Croatia and USA in the group phase.
“The draw is a welcome development because we had been waiting anxiously for long to know about the teams we are going to meet and it is interesting that we are in the same group with the host team, Chile,” admitted the former African Footballer of the Year. “I think our group like the rest is not an easy one and we were not expecting anything less. As such, we must be ready to play any team after all, we are the defending champions.”
The official draw was conducted by FIFA Event Manager, Jaime Yarza yesterday morning amidst pomp and ceremony at the iconic Centro de las Artes (Art Centre) 660 in Santiago, and Amuneke reckoned that his team’s route is cut out.
Incidentally, four-time record champions, Golden Eaglets would have the honour of playing the opening match of the tournament against Team USA on October 17 at the 47,000 capacity Estadio Nacional Martinez Pradanos in Santiago.
“We know there won’t be any easy game for us and we have to redouble our efforts and continue to prepare well since we know now our group phase opponents.
“All this while, we had been working generally but we would now be working specifically with our opponents in mind,” noted Amuneke who was an assistant when Nigeria won the U-17 trophy in 2013.
The 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be held between October 17 and November 8 across eight cities and the Golden Eaglets’ other group phase matches is scheduled to hold on October 20th against host Chile in Vina del Mar and against Croatia on October 23 at Coquimbo.
Group A: (Santiago, Vina del Mar, Coquimbo): Chile, Croatia, Nigeria, USA
Group B:(La Serena, Coquimbo, Vina del Mar): England, Guinea, Brazil, Korea Republic
Group C: (Chillan, Talca): Australia, Germany, Mexico, Argentina
Group D: (Talca, Chillan): Belgium, Mali, Honduras, Ecuador
Group E : (Concepcion, Puerto Montt): South Africa, Costa Rica, Korea DPR, Russia
Group F: (Puerto Montt, Concepcion): New Zealand, France, Syria, Paraguay