By Abiodun Adele.
Head coach of the Golden Eaglets, Nduka Ugbade, has expressed optimism that the Golden Eaglets will compete favourably at the 2023 U-17 African Cup of Nations billed for Algeria from April 29 to May 19, The PUNCH reports.
At the draw ceremony in Algiers, the Eaglets were drawn in Group B against Morocco, Zambia and perennial rivals South Africa.
Group A has hosts Algeria, Senegal, DR Congo and Somalia, while Group C comprises Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso and South Sudan.
Reacting to the draw, Ugbade said the Eaglets would stamp their authority on the tournament.
“Morocco is a team that I know very well and considering what they just did at the World Cup, I think their U-17 side will be motivated to do the same. And South Africa has exploded in terms of football and that is supposed to get us worried a bit just as Zambia is always known for good football as well,” Ugbade said.
“I believe they will have enough speed, strength, endurance and power to compete but knowing that we have won the World Cup five times, and that we are favourites for the competition, we are not looking at our group alone.
“So, we have to win our first two games and look to establish some authority in the knockouts. And we know winning the quarter-final sends us to the World Cup. We will not be participating, we will be competing and in our competition, we will join the contenders because we are already a nation that is known to have won the tournament,” he concluded.
The fifteenth edition of the U-17 AFCON is scheduled to take place from April 29 to May 19 in Algeria and will see the top four teams qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup which will be held in Peru from November 10 to December 2.
The Eaglets qualified for the tournament after winning the U-17 WAFU B championship last year, where they defeated Burkina Faso 2-1 in the final of the tournament held in Ivory Coast.
Nigeria has won the U17 AFCON twice in 2001 and 2007 and the FIFA U-17 World Cup five times in 1985, 1993, 2007, 2013 and 2015.