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U17 World Cup: Success Or Failure, Golden Eaglets Needs NFF Guidance



The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria on Wednesday embarrassingly crashed out of the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil after losing to one of the best-placed third-place teams in the competition.

Manu Garba led boys lost by 3-1 to the Netherlands on the same date the team won their last two competitions in 2015 in Chile and in UAE in 2013. The team showed it’s defensive deficiency conceding three goals, a total of 9 goals in just 4 games and scoring 9 as well.

A typical statistic from a Manu Garba team although this time he failed to find a balance in the defense which ultimately led to the team’s failure to qualify for the next round of the competition it has won five times and two out of the competition’s last three editions.

Nevertheless, it was unsurprising when news emanated of the sack of the team’s coach Manu Garba just hours after the elimination on Wednesday morning and although the NFF has been debunked by the Nigeria Football Federation it must be said that while the team’s selection was shrouded in controversies, beheading is not the cure to a headache.

The FIFA U17 World Cup is a developmental competition, designed to churn out talents however due to the country’s successes at this level, expectations are usually high from Nigerians and anything short of at least the final match is considered a failure.

Manu Garba has been involved in two out of Nigeria’s Five FIFA U17 World Cup wins, he certainly didn’t just lose his charm. Nevertheless, it isn’t to say he was flawless as his team lacked cohesion and coordinated play and clear cut pattern.

Meanwhile, it’s pertinent to move onto the next level of action in turning the potentials in the team to world beaters, using a cadet team’s success or otherwise at the FIFA U17 World Cup is an erroneous act which further scuppers the development and progress to the national team

Records and history have shown that a team winning the FIFA U17 World Cup doesn’t guarantee a big number of graduates into the national team in the future, likewise, it doesn’t mean the team was a success or failure. This is determined by how many players the team can get into the national team and excel.

In 2001, Femi Opabunmi shone in the tournament but the team lost to France in the final but none of the set of players made it to the Super Eagles.

A lot of teams have played as Nigeria’s U17 team, in 2007 one of the prominent of all the teams led by Yemi Tella to the glory in 2007 failed to produce a long-lasting player for the Super Eagles, Lukman Haruna only sparkles for a short while before age caught up with him. The tournament’s highest goal scorer, Macauley Chrisantus did little to nothing in the Super Eagles shirt, the less said about the rest the better.

In 2009, John Obuh led another set to the final in Abuja before losing to Switzerland in the final, four years later, Ogenyi Onazi, Kenneth Omeruo were part of the Super Eagles team that won the AFCON in South Africa, a year later Ramon Azeez was part of the team to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil and his still relevant in the national team.

While the Manu Garba’s 2013 team was exceptional in UAE majority of the players in that team have gone under the radar. Even one time Golden boy Kelechi Iheanacho struggles for game time at Leicester while Isaac Success has hardly done anything tangible.

The Nwakali brothers were tipped to be a big member of the Super Eagles very fast but years after both brothers’ triumph at the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2013 and 2015, their club careers have hardly started talkless of the national team.

One of Nigeria’s worst U17 team at the World Cup produced the nation’s best player in the last 15 years. In Finland 2003, the Golden Eaglets failed to qualify out of the group stage unluckily due to fair play rule but in that team was John Obi Mikel who go on top and excel at club level and national team, playing in all World cups at all levels and winning the Champions League and EPL as well as the AFCON.

Many factors contribute to the delay or inability, making the wrong career move due to greedy agents, lack of enlightenment on contracts and lack of hunger to excel and the feeling of all-done after signing for a foreign club, just the biggest of a lot of them. At this point, it is left to the country’s football federation (NFF) to play its part in ensuring that, players are more enlightened as regards contracts, follow clubs that would afford development for their careers.

Ibrahim Said, Ibrahim Jabaar, Wisdom Ubani, Samson Tijani, Olakunle Olusugen and the rest of the team may not have excelled in Brazil but their potentials are there for all to see, it is now turned for not to fail on their own part by guiding the youngster through a successful progress from youth football to the national team.

It is left for NFF to perfect what they started when the majority of the Golden Eaglets through the Nigeria U13 and U15 teams and the NPFL U15 Promises competition in 2017, and not just the 2019 team but their predecessors and successors.






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Muyiwa is an ardent follower of everything football. Fascinated by the beauty of the game, he takes pleasure in penning down his opinion about a sport that has more lovers than haters. PS: He loves Barcelona for making football look easier than it actually is.

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