FIFA Under-17 World Cup: Nigeria Will Lift The Cup, Says Manager Amuneke-Nigeria’s Under-17 Manager, Emmanuel Amuneke has assured Nigerians that no obstacle will stop the country from lifting the coveted Under-17 youth World Cup on Sunday after the vibrant Golden Eaglets pulled down mighty Mexico to lay on the turf an all African final.
The Eaglets on Thursday defeated the Mexican U-17 team in an exciting match which saw the Golden Boys depleting their opponent 4-2 goal aggregate in the semi-final which was played early Friday in Concepción, Chile.
The other FIFA Under-17 semi-final which saw Mali and Belgium in eye-to-eye daring conflict recorded a 3-1 victory in favour of the Malians, setting an unprecedented all African final on Sunday.
Amunike seeking for Nigeria’s support has assured that having got to this stage, there is no stopping Nigeria from lifting the cup again as a defending champion of the cadet cup.
He said “We are happy to be in the final because we worked very hard for it, ”
Amuneke, was an assistant coach when the Golden Eaglets won the 2013 edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
“The final will be an interesting challenge because we are facing the African champions. They are not new to us. We played them during the last West African Football Union (WAFU) tournament. We know that they are physically and tactically good. I want to assure that we will work very hard to defend this cup. We are happy to be in the final and have the chance to defend the world title once again,” Amuneke said.
The coach thanked football loving Nigerians for their support since the tournament began and like Oliver Twist, he asked for more as they play in the final on Sunday.
“I want to thank Nigerians for their support because we made it collectively to this stage. We want more of this support on Sunday as we bring smiles to the faces of Nigerians once again,” he said.
Meanwhile, President of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick was in ecstasy on Thursday night after the match.
“I’m very excited, not only with the result, but the way the boys came fighting back after that early goal by Mexico. I keep saying that we have the potentials to be world champions in several areas of endeavour.
“These boys have done Nigeria proud. They will go up against Mali on Sunday with great confidence and discipline, and emerge victorious, ” the website of the NFF quoted Pinnick to have told the team.
“Nigerians are happy with all of you because you have represented us well and I am personally proud of you,” said Pinnick. “I don’t want you to forget that anything you are doing is for our great country, Nigeria.
“Thirty years ago, we won this trophy when President Muhammadu Buhari was the military Head of State and it would be a great thing if we can do it again when he is now the civilian President.
“Your coach, Amuneke, has proved that he indeed played for FC Barcelona; that he indeed is a legend of Nigerian football and a worthy African Footballer of the Year for that matter. We want you to pay attention to his instructions and know that over 170 Million Nigerians are behind and supporting you,” he said.
FIFA’s Match report on Nigeria and Mexico Encounter
Holders Nigeria have reached their second consecutive final thanks to a thrilling 4-2 victory against Mexico in Concepcion.
Mexico opened the scoring through Kevin Magana, with stunning efforts from Kelechi Nwakali and Orji Okwonkwo seeing the African side ahead. Diego Cortes’s remarkable solo effort levelled matters, before Osinachi Ebere and Victor Osimhen’s late record-equalling penalty saw the Golden Eaglets into an all-African final against Mali.
Mexico controlled the ball in the opening stages of the match, and took the lead early on. Kevin Lara beat his man on the Mexican right and delivered a teasing cross into the middle. Aguirre tried to control with his chest, but Magana took charge and fired home.
Emmanuel Amuneke’s side began to grow into the game, with Kelechi Nwakali hitting a low drive from the edge of the Mexican penalty area with his venomous drive stinging the palms of Romero before the ball was cleared away.
The game see-sawed back Mexico’s way, with a free-kick from the Mexican left headed goalwards by Jose Esquivel. The chance forced a superb point blank stop by Akpan Udoh, onto the crossbar and eventually cleared behind.
Nigeria rode their luck, with a couple of good Mexican opportunities and after riding the storm, managed to level things up thanks to the superb technique of their captain. Nwakali lined up a free-kick from around 25 yards, and curled a perfect effort into the bottom left-hand corner. Romero stood no chance.
Amuneke’s charges sensed their opponents were on the back foot, and Okwonkwo took advantage, producing one of the moments of the tournament to see his side ahead. He cut inside from the left onto his right foot and thumped an effort in off the crossbar.
After the break, Mexico took time to reassert their rhythm after the shock of going behind. Cortes then stepped up to score what must be considered one of the best goals ever scored in the Estadio Ester Roa. He picked up the ball on the Mexican right just inside the Nigerian half and proceeded to dribble past five players, showing incredible close control before slotting calmly past Udoh.
Nigeria were undeterred by Cortes’s golazo and struck back. Ebere found space on the Nigerian right just inside the Mexican penalty area after a long through ball. His right-footed effort was too strong for Romero, who got a hand to the strike but could not keep it out.
John Lazarus was taken down in the Mexican penalty area, giving Osimhen the chance to score his ninth goal of Chile 2015 and go level at the top of the all-time U-17 World Cup goalscoring charts. He slotted home with ease, adding gloss to the Golden Eaglets victory.
Nigeria head to Vina Del Mar on Sunday for an all-African final against continental champions Mali while Mexico will face off against Belgium in the match for third place earlier the same day.
Mali came back from a goal down against Belgium in emphatic fashion, Boubacar Traore’s first half strike levelling matter at the half-time break before Sidiki Maiga’s put the Malians ahead on 55 minutes. Sekou Koita put the icing on the cake five minutes from time as the African nation secured their first-ever Final spot in the competition.
Mexico and Belgium square off for the bronze medal, while Mali and Nigeria lock horns in an All-African Final on Sunday evening.
Sources: FIFA, Kickoff and PM News