The national U-17 team have their work cut out as they bid to win the 10th Caf U-17 Championship and qualify for the World Cup
The 10th edition of the Caf U-17 African Championship to take place from 13th to 27th April 2013 has thrown up a group of death that includes Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and the Congo DR.
But despite the supposedly tough draw, Coach Garba Manu, Nigeria's national U-17 handler is hopeful his boys will scale the hurdles placed in their path to book a semi-final ticket and ultimately World Cup qualification in Morocco.
Coach Manu Garba described Sunday’s draw as interesting, whilst also expressing confidence that the Golden Eaglets will progress from what is widely regarded as the group of death.
“The draws are very interesting because we have two other West- African sub-regional teams in our group,” stated Garba.
Hosts, Morocco were drawn in Group A alongside Gabon, Tunisia and Botswana.
Garba said the target of the Golden Eaglets would be first and foremost, to qualify for the semi-finals in order to book a ticket to the 2013 Fifa U-17 World Cup to be hosted in the United Arab Emirates.
“It is important that we play all the tough teams and win if we are going to be the overall champions.
“With good preparations and God on our side, we shall qualify from our group irrespective of the oppositions to get to the semi-final stages and qualify for the World Cup,” added Garba.
“On paper, our group can be regarded as the toughest because of the records of all the four teams in the past championships.
Opponents, Ghana are Caf’s U-17 Championship all-time record holders with two victories in 1995 and 1999. The Black Starlets were runners-up in 2005 and also twice second runners-up in 1997 and 2007.
Nigeria has the second most successful cadet team in Africa with success in 2001 and 2007 as well as being runners-up and second runners-up in 1995 and 2003 respectively. Cote d’Ivoire and Congo DR are yet to taste triumphs in the bi-annual championship.Ghana edged out South Africa 5-3 on aggregate while Cote d’Ivoire saw off Senegal 3-2 on aggregate and Congo DR edged Tanzania 2-1 also on aggregate.
The Golden Eaglets won all its six qualifying matches, scoring 21 goals in the process but Garba said that all of that is in the past as they now focus attention on the championship which starts in Morocco in April 2013.