By Ebenezer Bajela.
Nduka Ugbade, head coach of the Golden Eaglets is confident his lads can win the 2023 CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria as he named 26 players in his contingent for the tournament.
Ugbade was quoted in a statement by the media team of the Nigeria Football Federation, with players and officials set to arrive in the Algerian city of Constantine on Sunday night to commence their final preparations for the tournament.
“We are going to Algeria with confidence but with level heads,” Ugbade stated.
“We’re the champions of WAFU B, but in essence, nothing has been won. What matters now are winning a ticket to the FIFA World Cup and winning the Africa Cup. I believe we have the boys to do the job.”
NFF also confirmed in the statement the schedule of the team after their proposed plan to camp in Germany hit a snag.
“Five-time world champions Nigeria are scheduled to arrive in the Algerian city of Constantine on Sunday night for their final preparations for this year’s Africa U-17 Cup of Nations,” the statement read.
“Following complications that arose in the process of securing entry visas into Germany for a planned final training camp in that country, the Nigeria Football Federation opted to send the squad earlier to Algeria for the final build-up, and Constantine, the renown city where the Eaglets will play Morocco, Zambia and South Africa in Group B, is the choice.”
Ugbade’s lads swept all before them to win the WAFU B U-17 Championship in Cape Coast, Ghana 10 months ago, and have put on display tremendous firepower in their preparations for the continental showpiece.
After resuming camp in mid-March following the break for the general elections, the Eaglets played 12 friendly matches at their NFF/FIFA Goal Project, Abuja base, winning 11 of the matches and drawing the other one. They scored a total of 66 goals and conceded 14.
The team will begin their quest at the 12-team continental championship on Sunday against Zambia at the 22,000-capacity Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui.
They will then take on Morocco and South Africa in other matches in Group B.
The top four-placed teams in Algeria will qualify to represent Africa at the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals scheduled for later this year.