U-17 AFCON: Ugbade relieved to make quarter–finals


By Ebenezer Bajela.

Nigeria’s coach Nduka Ugbade said he was relieved to see his side come off the right side of a 3-2 thriller against South Africa and qualify to the quarter finals of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Constantine on Saturday.

The Golden Eaglets returning to winning ways after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Morocco in the second game of the tournament.

With a quarter-final spot and a World Cup ticket at stake, Ugbade’s boys on Saturday came back from behind twice to snatch a win in a thrilling game.

The victory saw Nigeria finish second in Group B and earn an available automatic qualification slot.

Speaking in an interview with CAFOnline, the 1985 FIFA U-16 World Championship winner said he was relived to have qualified for the next round.

“It was a really tough match because South Africa is a really good team and they gave us a tough time. They have three players that are really good; Mabena (Siyabonga), Mkhawana (Vicky) and Dokunmu (Michael). They are very talented players and I was honestly scared of them at first,” Ugbade said.

He was delighted to see his side finally firing well to score three goals, having struggled to find the back of the net in their first two games despite creating so many chances.

“We worked a bit in training and we did some corrections. We realized that it was purely psychological and we talked to the players and we saw an improvement today. We might have conceded two but I am glad we scored three,” said the tactician.