The Golden Eaglets will take on Burkina Faso in a quarter-final game at the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Thursday with an eye for a ticket to the World Cup.
Coach Nduka Ugbade’s side face their fellow West Africans in a repeat of the WAFU B championship final which the Nigerians won 2-1 last year.
Nigeria earned their place in the quarter-final tie after finishing second in Group B of the U-17 AFCON while their foes were second-placed in Group C.
While the Golden Eaglets are favourites to win the tie and seal a semi-final spot, Coach Ugbade admits that the game won’t be easy.
“My message before the match to the players is that these competitions are usually intense, and I told them we must have the will and play the match as it should, and stressed that winning makes us qualify for the World Cup,” he said in a pre-match conference, according to CAF.
The Golden Eaglets have won the U-17 World Cup five times in 12 appearances and Ugbade believes making it to the global showpiece again will be enough motivation for his side going into Thursday’s tie.
“This match will be important for us as it will qualify us for the World Cup. Burkina Faso has a really good team and we have played against them before and we experienced a very difficult match,” the coach said in a pre-game presser. “We expect it to be the same in the quarter-final.”
Inspired to revenge their loss to Nigeria last year, the Young Stallions’ coach Brahima Traore told CAF that a lot has changed since then.
“Both teams have changed and most of the players who played then are not in the team,” he noted.”It will be a different match and definitely tougher.”
Despite managing only three points from their group (they played two matches since they were three teams) Coach Brahima believes his boys have all it takes to shock the Nigerians.
“We had two objectives in this tournament; first to get to the semi-finals and then to fight for the title,” the gaffer added. “We will prepare well for Nigeria to enable us to get to the semis and earn the World Cup ticket.”
Nigeria’s U-17 AFCON quarter-final match against Burkina Faso will start by 8:00 pm (WAT) on Thursday at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers, Algeria.