Cadet national team, Golden Eaglets coach, Manu Garba is staying positive for a ticket to the African U17 Nations Cup in Tanzania, as he says his side will do better in their next game.
Speaking against the backdrop of the Eaglets’ 3-2 loss to Burkina Faso in their first match at the zonal qualifiers in Niger Republic, Manu, who won the 2013 FIFA U17 World Cup in United Arab Emirates Stadium, said he side should not be written off just yet.
Rather than feel flustered by their opening group loss to the Burkinabe, the former Wikki Tourist of Bauchi coach said his boys will wake up to the occasion in Thursday’s next game against Cote d’Ivoire and end it with victory, which would put them back into contention for the semi-finals.
Manu spoke after the Eaglets conceded twice in the opening seven minutes, as Burkina raced to a two-goal lead but Nigeria scored twice through Olakunle Olusegun to peg the scores at 2-2 going into the halftime interval.
Eaglets’ captain, Abdul Komi gave Burkina Faso the lead from the penalty spot in the third minute before Aziz Siribe doubled their lead four minutes later.
Shortly after hitting the cross bar, Nigeria halved the deficit through a well-taken goal by Olusegun in the 12th minute before the youngster equalized on the dot of half time, after converting a penalty.
Manu’s boys continued to press in the second half with Olusegun denied by Burkina Faso goalkeeper, Jean Bazemo.
With the game looking to end in a draw, the beaten finalist at the 2001 U-17 AFCON got the back breaking winner through Moubarack Compaore, twelve minutes from time.
Nigeria’s next opponents, Cote d’Ivoire were not in action on Monday after Republic of Benin were disqualified on Sunday due to irregularities detected by Magnetic Resonance Imaging Test (MRI) tests.
Tuesday will be observed as a rest day, after which the cadet competition will resume on Wednesday, with hosts Niger Republic taking on Ghana.
While Ghana will go out for their first match of the zonal qualifiers, the hosts were held 0-0 by Togo in the tournament’s opening game on Sunday.
Two teams will advance from each group into the semi-finals, after the first stage ends on Sunday, but only the tournament winner will get a place at Tanzania 2019.
Manu admitted that victory is crucial for the Eaglets in their second group match, to keep in full flight their target of qualifying for the U-17 AFCON, and he added: “God’s willing; we shall beat Cote d’Ivoire to keep our hope alive.”