Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, has predicted a tough test for his wards when they open their 11th African U-17 Championship account against Niger at the Stade Général Seyni Kountché (SGSK) in Niamey today.
The former Barcelona star believes a win against the host would set a good omen as Nigeria push for the trophy yet again. Golden Eaglets nearly won the championship the last time in Morocco but lost to Cote d’Ivoire in a dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout after a pulsating 1-1 draw.
“The first game is very important and we want to win irrespective of the fact that we are meeting Niger,” said Amuneke.
“Of course, we know it is never going to be an easy match because both teams would like to win. “
He said he was not oblivious about the huge test of playing against the host in front of a partisan crowd, adding his wards must gird their loins:”We have told the players in clear terms that we want nothing but victory against Niger,” he said.” It’s never going to be easy but we must be tactically and psychologically sound for this match.”
Golden Eaglets’, who are drawn in Group A, would subsequently play Guinea and Zambia on February 18 and 22 respectively. But Amuneke further stated that the focus of the team was today’s match against Niger: “Mentally, we must be prepared for the home team but if we win, it will put us on course for other matches.”
Amuneke psyched the players on the stiff test that is today’s match as the team fine tunes all the rough edges:”We need to psychologically prepare ourselves in all circumstances because in football, you can never neglect the inconveniences,”he said. “Our idea is that we want to win though we don’t know what the match can bring, we must be able to resolve the issue.”