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Coach Nduka Ugbade’s Nigeria U-17 squad for 2023 will do Nigeria proud as they embark on their quest for their third African title since 2007.
The team will play against Zambia on Sunday at the Mohamed Hamlaoui Stadium at 17:00
With a record 10 appearances in the tournament, the Golden Eagles, two-time winners in 2001 and 2007, are eager to reclaim their position as the dominant force in African youth football.
The Confederation of African Football launched the U17 event as a Malian tournament in 1995, and the Golden Eagles lost to their West African rivals, the Black Starlets of Ghana, in the first edition.
The Eaglets failed to qualify for the 1997 finals and lost at the group stage in Guinea in 1999.
However, Nigeria won the fourth CAF U17 Championship in Seychelles in 2001, easily beating Burkina Faso 3-0 in Victoria.
The Golden Eagles won again in Togo in 2007, but since then it has been empty and empty for Nigerian teams.
But even when titles didn’t come, the U-17 AFCON consistently served as a launch pad for future stars, with many past Eaglets graduating to Nigeria’s senior team, the Super Eagles.
Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi, among many others, have now become key players in the Super Eagles squad, but they all cut their teeth with the Golden Eagles.
This year’s team, led by coach Nduka Ugbade, is fresh, made up of young talents from secondary schools and academies across Nigeria.
Their recent victory at the West African Football Union (WAFU) tournament proved their potential, and they are now eyeing a victorious AFCON under-17 campaign and World Cup qualification.
Precious Williams, the skipper of the Golden Eaglets, is confident that the team can achieve its goals.
The 16-year-old centre-forward, who plays for the HB Football Academy in Abuja, draws inspiration from the Under-17 players who graduated to represent Nigeria at the highest level.
“It is a great encouragement to see them at the highest level and to know that they started here in the U17 Nations Cup. It is a great encouragement for the players that we can also achieve it,” said the Williams football federation. “Personally, it’s a big motivation for me, and I hope to raise my name from here as well.”
Coach Ugbade’s rigorous preparation has given the young team confidence and Williams believes the knowledge and skills gained under Ugbade’s guidance will help them achieve their goals:
“The coaches have done their job to prepare for the games, and we are going to use the knowledge they have given us to achieve what we want to achieve; Qualifying for the World Cup and trying to win the tournament.”
Securing a place in the semi-finals will guarantee a place for the Golden Eagles of Nigeria FIFA The U-17 World Cup, a tournament that they have won an incredible five times.
As they embark on their quest for a third under-17 AFCON championship and World Cup qualification, the Golden Eaglets are ready to showcase their talent and determination on the world stage.
The hopes and dreams of a nation ride on the shoulders of these young footballers, and they are ready to rise to new heights.
After Sunday’s game against Zambia at the 22,000-capacity Mohamed Hamlaoui Stade, the Eaglets will face Morocco and South Africa in other Group B matches.
A team of 26 players
Richard Odoh (HB Football Academy)
Yahaya Danjuma Lawali (Mahanaim FC)
Emmanuel Michael (Simon Ben Football Academy)
Haruna Abdullahi (Kurfi Tigers Academy)
Tochukwu Joseph Ogboji (Purple Crown Academy)
Jeremiah Oluwaseyi Olaleke (Ablaze Football Academy)
Umar Abubakar (Devine Football Academy)
Abubakar Idris Abdullahi (Jega United)
Precious Tonye Williams (HB Soccer Academy)
Ifeoluwa Adewale Olowoporoku (Triple 44 Academy)
Charles Adah Agada (Mavlon FC)
Hope Yusuf Linus (EE Sporting Club)
Jubril Opeyemi Azeez (Right Vision Choice Academy)
Anongu Isaac Aondoakaa (FC Bathel Sporting)
Israel Nwachukwu Usulor (Real Sapphire FC)
Temiloluwa Oluwayimika Adelakin (Box2Box Academy)
Simon Karshe Cletus (Mavlon FC)
Tochukwu Simeon Ogbadibo (Jossy United)
Light Chijioke Eke (C&C Football Academy)
ALSO READ: U-17 AFCON: Golden Eaglets receive cash offer from Eagles captain
Favor Oluwasegun Daniel (G12 Football Academy)
Chijioke Julius Linus (Triple 44 Academy)
Quadri Oluwatobiloba Adewale (Nathaniel Boys FC)
Gift Ukeh Adie (Paul E Football Academy)
Musa Oluwaseyi Akinfenwa (Real Sapphire FC)
Usman Ajibola Owoyemi (Triple 44 Academy)
Matthew Awodi Kingsley (Brook House Academy)
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