Emmanuel Amuneke, Golden Eaglets’ Head coach, has described Sunday’s draw of the 11th African U-17 Championship – Niger 2015 – that pitched Nigeria against hosts, Niger, Guinea and Zambia in Group A as a fair deal, adding that his wards would be focussed at securing a ticket to the 2015 FIFA World Cup in Chile.
“I think it is a fair grouping not minding the fact that we are going to face the host country, Niger,” Amuneke stated. “We are not going to underrate any of the teams and as I said before the draw, our sole objective in Niger is to qualify for the World Cup and after that, we can begin to talk about other things.”
Indeed, Golden Eaglets have their work cut out since they are going to battle against the host whom their illustrious predecessors, white-washed 10-1 on aggregate in the qualifiers for Morocco 2013 where they finished second and secured a ticket to the FIFA World Cup in the UAE – and eventually earned Nigeria a record fourth title.
“We are aware of the task ahead of us and what happened between the Golden Eaglets and Niger the last time is immaterial now,” noted Amuneke.
“Our boys have to go out there and show that this set of Golden Eaglets is good in their own right and we must first secure a ticket to the World Cup.”
Though Zambia and Guinea are making a return to the competition after a break since they failed to qualify the last time in Morocco, Amuneke said they won’t be treated with kid’s gloves.
“Both Zambia and Guinea showed they are a strong side during the qualifiers; so we are going to take all our matches seriously.”
In the other half of the draw, defending champions, Cote d’Ivoire will slug it out in Group B along with the trio of South Africa, Mali and Cameroon who incidentally was not at Morocco 2013.
Niger 2015 tournament will take place between February 15 and March 1 next year in Niger with the semi-finalists guaranteed a ticket to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held between October 17 and November 8, 2015 in Chile.