Nigeria qualified for next year’s U17 African Cup of Nations in Tanzania and head coach Manu Garba took time to reflect on their tortuous journey to Wafu Zone B success in Niamey.
Despite their opening loss to Burkina Faso, the Golden Eaglets recovered in time and went on to see off Cote d’Ivoire, hosts Niger and arch-rivals Ghana respectively to emerge as champions.
And the 2013 U17 World Cup winning gaffer revealed their rough experience and what he did differently to steer his wards to glory at the regional age grade championship a week ago.
“We thank God for everything as we remained focus to put national pride and love for our country first,” Garba told Goal.
“We firmly believed that after every hardship comes ease. Well in the first place, the first goal conceded against Burkina Faso was not a clear penalty and most importantly that was the first international match for the boys.
“Despite the loss, we created a lot of scoring chances and dominated possession. We told the boys to sleep over the lost and prepare to win against Cote d’Ivoire by at least two goal difference to keep hope of our qualifying alive, knowing fully well the two french countries are playing each other in our last group match.
“Though we lost some key players to MRI, we made sure we prepare the ones we have in all aspect of football fitness and our team was the youngest in the tournament. We have watched everyone play competitively and will keep the nucleus of the team together.
“I believe the team will grow from strength to strength but we shall still reinforce the team in areas we need to fortify and also we don't have automatic shirt here as every player will continue to fight for a place in the team because competition is going to be there and God’s willing other exciting talents will be given the opportunity.”