Golden Eaglets of Nigeria will today kick start their FIFA U17 World Cup title defence against the United States of America, USA at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago, Chile.
Coach Garba Manu tutored a bunch of talented youngsters led by Kelechi Iheanacho, Success Isaac, Taiwo Awoniyi and Chidiebere Nwakali to beat all comers with some swash-buckling displays to lift the trophy after beating Mexico 3-0 in the final in the United Arab Emirate, UAE in 2013.
Current coach of the Golden Eaglets Emmanuel Amuneke, who an assistant to Garba Manu led the team to fourth position at the Africa Under-17 Championship in Niamey, Nigeria Republic, last January to book a place at the finals in Chile and feels his wards can repeat the same feat.
The Nigerian lads who arrived Santiago, Chile, venue of the championship have been in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, preparing for the title defence
While in Argentina, the Golden Eaglets defeated Argentina’s Under-17 side 2-1 and piped Racing Club 3-1 to round up their preparation.
Speaking shortly on arrival in Chile, Coach Amuneke said, “We are here to defend the trophy. We are here with new players who want to write their own history and we are looking forward to our first game against the United States of America, which is very important for us.”
The team’s top scorer, Victor Osimhen, who is looked upon to lead the goals charge alongside team captain Kelechi Nwakali, also spoke about their expectations at the tournament.
“We are here to win, just as the coach said, we are here to write our own story as a team and players.”
Coach Amuneke said the team’s exploit in Argentina has positively boosted the morale ahead of the competition in Chile.
“We are not getting carried away despite winning our two matches during the raining tour, but we are happy we have achieved part of our objectives of coming to Argentina but we are grateful for the opportunity.”
The former Super Eagles and Barcelona forward said the team is prepared and ready for the challenge although the world cup is a different ball game because all the 24 teams have the chance to win, noting that the Eaglets are in Chile with the objective of defending the trophy and we are looking forward to a good tournament.”
The Golden Eaglets have been drawn against USA, Croatia and hosts, Chile in Group A. The 16th edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup finals will begin today in Chile and will run till November 8.
Nigeria have won the FIFA U-17 World Cup for a record fourth times in 1985, 93, 2007 and 2013. They were runner up in 87, 2001 and 2009 in Abuja, Nigeria. The Eaglets featured in an invitational tournament in South Korea where they played Brazil, Croatia and host South Korea before moving to Argentina for are training for two weeks ahead the world cup.