Golden Eaglets coach Manu Garba

After missing out on the U17 Africa Cup of Nations final, Nigeria U17 coach Manu Garba has praised his players, stating that they played ‘gallantly’ in the face of ‘bigger’ Guinea U17 boys.

In their semi-final clash against Mohamed Camara’s side, the Golden Eaglets played out a goallessdraw before going on to lose 10-9 on penalties.

Notably, they struggled to get a foothold in the game and were largely outplayed by the Junior Sylis, who enjoyed 52% of the possession.

It was the first time in the competition that Nigeria suffered such fate, after dominating Group A oppositions Tanzania, Angola and Uganda in the previous three matches, which ended in two wins and a draw.

“I congratulate my colleague for the victory but I must say that even in defeat we lost gallantly, despite the fact that the Guineans were bigger in size than my boys,” Garba said after the match.

“They used their physical presence to intimidate some of the players.

“Of course they had the protection of the centre man some certain times. But I must say that we gave a good account of ourselves.

“We created more chances than the Guineans. We were just unlucky not to [wrap up the game in regular time]. But the ultimate is to qualify for the World Cup and that’s what we have done.

“So I say congratulations to the Guineans.”

Garba’s claim about the ‘bigger’ Guinea U17 side comes after Senegal voiced their displeasure over alleged age-cheating in Camara’s squad.

On Saturday, Nigeria face Angola – who were defeated on penalties by Cameroon – in the third place and fourth place play-off.

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