Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets will begin quest for a third Africa U-17 title when they take on hosts Tanzania in the opening game of the 2019 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam today (Sunday).
The Golden Eaglets were lucky to make the trip to Tanzania since Ghana nearly upstaged their applecart in the regional WAFU Zone B final match in Niger last September where they triumphed 3-1 on penalties after they both tied 1-1 in regulation time.
Manu Garba’s lads showed their readiness for the 2019 AFCON at the recently held UEFA-organised U-17 Turkey Invitational Tournament where despite losing 2-0 in their opener against Senegal. They beat Montenegro (4-2) and their Group A rivals in Tanzania, Angola (3-1).
The hosts will be buoyed by their teaming supporters who will be desperate to see them begin the competition on a winning note.
Garba however insisted his side won’t be under form of pressure in the game.
“We don’t feel any pressure playing against the hosts in the opening game. We have good records when we played in similar circumstances. Tanzania is a good team but we will see what we can get,” Garba told reporters in his pre-match conference.
Nigeria captain Tijani Samson is confident his side will secure maximum points in the game even as he acknowledged that they know little or nothing about the Tanzanians.
“It will not be a tough game for us because we are taking one game after the other. We don’t know how they play and they don’t know what we can do but I am sure we will win.”
Nigeria won the title in 2001 and 2007. The West Africans have been runners up twice with the last being at the 2013 finals held in Morocco when the Garba, blooded the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City and Isaac Success of Watford, amongst others.