Seyi Akinwunmi: NFF keen on youth development not U17 World Cup title

Seyi Akinwunmi NFF VP
Samuel Ahmadu/Goal
Youth football progression and not winning a sixth world title in Brazil is the country’s main target, according to the Nigerian football chief
The Nigeria U17 technical crew has been tasked with sustaining the Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) policy on youth development rather than winning 2019’s U17 World Cup at all cost.

The Golden Eaglets will be making their 12th appearance at the biennial championship in Brazil and have been zoned in Group B alongside Hungary, Ecuador, Hungary, and Australia.

With five world titles, Nigeria are the most successful team in U17 World Cup history but have failed to replicate these successes at the senior level.

As the world converges on the South American nation for the 18th edition in October, acting NFF president Seyi Akinwunmi has charged the Manu Garba-led technical crew to focus on developmental football.

According to Akinwunmi during his visit to the team, the U17 team should be a nursery to discover and cultivate raw football talents in Nigeria.

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"The technical crew has nothing to prove to anybody.  Fifa U17 World Cup is a developmental programme and Nigeria has shown that she has the ability to win the tournament at the world stage,” he said.

“We have won it five times previously. But what we want is a little extra and probably even more important is the development of the players.

"It is to build a system whereby, getting into the national U17 team, you have to go through a pathway, you don't go through a short cut.

“There are so many players in the country that don't have the means to be in Abuja, yet they are very good, but they can play in their states and in their zones and if they are discovered to be very good, then they can come to Abuja.

“The fact that some players have the means to enter a bus or plane to come to Abuja and do screening should not give them an advantage.”

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"I've explained this position to the technical crew and we are aligned because it is a policy of the board, that is the way we want to go as a Federation.

"I'm very happy and I can see the future Super Eagles, the U13s and the U15s that have improved in their game and grown in their ability to interact socially and these are the things we want.

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"Not all of them who are of age will get into the team because we have some players that featured in Tanzania, but we are glad that there are some that are already competing for shirts and this is what we want.

“We want the system of youth development to grow. We don't want people to be sending players to the national team from all nooks and crannies. We want a system where the best will emerge at the top.”

Nigeria begin their campaign against Hungary on October 16 at Goiania’s Estadio Olimpico.