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U17 World Cup

Nigeria's Little Ronaldo? Olawale can take the U17 World Cup by storm

6:03 PM GMT 22/10/2019
Peter Olawale
A lot will be expected of the teenage striker, whose goalscoring prowess has been compared to the Portuguese great

Talk about the player who can propel Nigeria to a sixth U17 World Cup, Peter Olawale comes highly recommended.

The 16-year-old made coach Manu Garba’s 21-man squad to Brazil, and the gangling striker is expected to lead the Golden Eaglet’s frontline despite missing the U17 Afcon earlier this year.

Still in the nascent stages of his career, he has, nevertheless, been tipped to follow in the illustrious footsteps of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

Blessed with blistering speed, and intimidating aerial prowess, Tripple 44 Academy’s proprietor Olatunji Samuel Okuku, who has been following the development of the young goal merchant intensely, feels that with proper mentoring, Olawale can one day join Nigeria’s pantheon of greats.

“When Peter [Olawale] first came to Tripple 44 Football Academy aged 14, he was asked to play against the first team because the U15 team had gone for a competition,” Okuku told Goal.

“He didn’t disappoint me because despite playing against those older than him, I saw a fast, skilful and strong player who could create chances out of nothing. Unfortunately, he couldn’t complete the test game as he was substituted due to injury.

“He trained with my team for over two months and I was impressed at the level of his technical ability, his dribbling ability and his knack for scoring goals.

“Also, he is a player every coach would want to have in his team because he is hardworking and can play in any position apart from goalkeeping. I am very certain that he will take the U17 World Cup by storm.”

As Nigeria prepare to commence their World Cup campaign against Hungary, Olawale has players like Olakunle Olusegun, Akinkunmi Amoo, and Widom Ubani alongside him in the attack, with Peter Agba just behind him in the midfield.

The introverted 16-year-old claimed off-field adaptation was his worry when he first joined the Nigeria U17 team, but is now getting along with everyone and is charged to make the country proud.

“I have come out of my shyness because I now have many friends in the team who I can also call my family members,” Olawale told Goal.

“Coach Manu has also been helpful to me and I always play according to his instructions. I pray that when the championship starts, I hope that I can replicate what I have been taught.

“I can’t really predict the number of goals I will score in Brazil, but if given the chance I will score as my goals that come my way.”

The Golden Eaglets didn't defend their world title in the last edition staged in India having failed to qualify for the 2017 U17 Africa Cup of Nations.

They commence their 12th World Cup campaign with a clash with Hungary at the Estadio Olimpico, Goiania on October 26 before taking on Ecuador and Australia in the other Group B fixtures.