Assistant Coach of Nigeria. Nduka Ugbade believes the experience and pedigree of the Golden Eaglets would come in handy when they play Iran in a Round of 16 Match of the U-17 World Cup at the Khalifa Bin Stadium in Al Ain on Tuesday.
While the Golden Eaglets have won the U-17 World Cup three times, the Iranians are only making their third appearance and Ugbade is upbeat about the chances of the Nigerians youngsters.
“We have been keeping tabs on all our likely opponents and I paid so much attention to the game between Iran and Austria on Friday which they won by a 1-0 goal,” stated Ugbade, who captained Nigeria to win the trophy in 1985. “The Iranians are a good side no doubt but with all modesty, we should be able to cope well against them.”
Ugbade said the Golden Eaglets are not being carried away after an impressive First Round performance where they scored 14 goals in three matches including the 6-1 thrashing of defending champions, Mexico.
“Of course, we are getting better since we defeated Mexico and the boys did well against Iraq on Friday with a 5-0 win but I have no doubt that we would overcome the Iranians if we can correct some specific lapses we have noticed,” he noted.
In the interim, the Golden Eaglets have arrived safely in Al Ain and were warmly received by the LOC as well as staff at the Danat Resort Hotel. The team would resume training on Sunday after enjoying a full rest day upon their arrival in Al Ain.
“It is nice to be back to our base,” said Tayo Egbaiyelo, the team administrator. “We are a very much at home at Danat.”
Meanwhile, injured Isaac Success may be struggling with his fitness after he copped an injury during the match against Sweden but the Golden Eaglets’ Vice-Captain, Isaac is confident that his teammates would get the job done. There has been pocket of doubts about the goal scoring ability of the Golden Eaglets since Success’ unceremonious exit but speaking for the first time, the lanky striker said the team remain focussed.
“I feel bored and sad that I got injured but I believe that we have so much quality in the team and I have no doubt that we can win this trophy, “ he said after the team’s arrival in Al Ain.
“ I feel pained that I couldn’t play the last match against Iraq but I’m so happy we won the match.”
He reinforced his stand during Friday’s parley with the NFF’s President Alhaji Aminu Maigari that the Golden Eaglets have what it takes to make it a fourth title for Nigeria:“ We have enjoyed so much support from the NFF and many Nigerians, we can’t disappoint them. May be it could have been better if I’m playing but I know that with or without me, we can win this trophy.”
The Eaglets have responded well without the presence of their star striker with Taiwo Awoniyi, Musa Yahaya, Chidiebere Nwakali and Obasi Chigozie sharing six goals between themselves.
“We are sad when Success got injured but we have all psyched ourselves up,” said Taiwo Awoniyi at the Mixed Zone after the 5-0 win against Iraq at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai. “It is a team effort and we are going to do our best for the team.”