By Johnny Edward.
Nigeria’s U-17 coach, Nduka Ugbade, is confident that the Golden Eaglets will seal qualification for the U-17 World Cup when they take on Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals of the U-17 African Cup of Nations in Algeria on Thursday (today), The PUNCH reports.
The Eaglets are aiming to qualify for the World Cup for a record 11th time.
Ugbade’s side came from behind twice to edge South Africa 3-2 in a final group stage encounter in Constantine, with the five goals scored by different players on the night, while Burkina Faso fought back from a goal down to beat holders Cameroon 2-1.
Speaking ahead of the game, Ugbade stated that the Young Etalons will not deny his team the opportunity to compete for a record-extending sixth U-17 World Cup title later this year.
The Eaglets are the most successful nation in the history of the tournament, with five titles and three runners up medals.
Brazil are the second-most successful side with four titles and two runners-up spots, while Ghana and Mexico have won the tournament twice.
“We are prepared for the game on Thursday (today) and further challenges in the competition,” Ugbade said.
“The quarter-final matches will be very hard nuts to crack because that is the step that earns you the World Cup ticket,” Ugbade said.
He added, “The team have not come this far to drop out. We are focused hard on qualifying for the World Cup. After that, we can then focus on other objectives.
“We learnt a lot playing Zambia, Morocco and South Africa and it has helped the team get better.”
The encounter, billed for the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Algiers will also be a repeat of the 2001 U-17 AFCON final in Seychelles, where the Eaglets trounced the Young Etalons 3-0 in Victoria.
Meanwhile, Burkina Faso’s coach Brahima Traore says his side’s primary target remains to qualify for the World Cup.
“We had two objectives in this tournament; first to get to the semi-finals and then to fight for the title. We will prepare well for Nigeria to enable us get to the semi-final and earn the World Cup ticket.”