Nigeria’s Under-17 national team assistant coach Nduka Ugbade has said that the country’s new squad will be built around verifiable young players that will assure a brighter future for the nation's football.
Ugbade, who led Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets to their maiden title triumph at Fifa’s 1985 U16 World Cup in China said this as the Nigeria Bottling Company launched the fourth edition of its Copa Coca-Cola in Lagos.
The organisers of the tournament presented last season’s Dream Team that had just returned from London where they took part in an African tournament at the training grounds of English Premier League club Chelsea.
“I can assure everyone that these players are the first draft into the new [U17] team because their ages have been vetted and the country can be sure of a next generation of quality players,” Ugbade told Goal.com.
The young players met their African heroes Didier Drogba, John Mikel Obi and Salomon Kalou at Chelsea.
“I just have to thank God that I have this opportunity”, said Toyeeb Gidado, one of the youngsters who took part.
“Even though my stomach did not agree with the food, my prayer now is that I get the chance to go back there to prove my worth. But I want to finish school first”, the 15-year-old said.
Tochukwu Nwosu, another of the Dream Team, is hoping to use the platform to sign for a big European club.
“Chelsea was something else – I had never dreamed that football could be like that. All that I had known were dusty and bumpy fields and then there I was playing on carpet grass,” remarked Nwosu.
“After witnessing such an experience, I thirst for more – I wish I could have stayed back there but I am sure that with the help of my coaches, I will be able to go back someday.”
This year’s edition of the football tournament will run for eight months across four zones in Nigeria.