Nigeria begin quest for a record world cadet championship crown as they battle the defending champions on Saturday
Mexico and Nigeria will open their group challenge at the Fifa U-17 World Cup taking place in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.
The Golden Eaglets will be staging a return to this competition after missing out of the last edition hosted by Mexico – a harsh lesson for not booking a ticket to the Africa cadet championship.
This Group F encounter billed for Al Ain City is expected to be a tough battle going by the antecedents both teams hold at this level of football and going by the fact that they are both top contenders for this year’s title.
Nigeria have won all U-17 World tournaments hosted on Asian soil (China 85, Japan 93, South Korea 2007) and coach Garba Manu will be banking on this to breeze past the Raul El Potro Gutierrez’s side who were on the winning side when both countries last met at this same championship in 1987 when it was hosted by Canada.
Gutierrez will be banking on star player Marco Granados - team leading goal scorer at the Concacaf U17 championship and the likes of Pedro Teran and Francisco Calderon to cage the free scoring Nigerians whose only defeat till date was against Cote D’Ivore at the 2013 Africa U17 Championship, which was decided through penalty shootouts.
Top striker Success Isaac, with his clinical partner Kelechi Iheanacho, is expected to lead Nigeria’s attack with Musa Yahaya who plays for Mutunchi Academy and Chelsea’s Habib Makanjuola expected to torment their opponents through the flanks.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Nigeria have never lost their first match in the history of this competition.
- Coach Garba Manu (pictured) was Yemi Tella's assistant to the U-17 World Cup in South Korea.
- Nigeria have won all Fifa U-17 world cup hosted by Asian countries.
- Mexico will be making their 11th appearance in this tourney.
- 14-year old Chelsea midfielder, Habib Makanjuola is the youngest player in the Golden Eaglets' squad to this championship.
- Mexico have won the U-17 world cup twice, Nigeria thrice.