By Sedara Philip
President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau has inspired the Golden Eaglets to go for another three points in tomorrow’s clash with Morocco’s U17 team in order to book an early spot in the tournament quarter-finals.
The NFF supremo, on a visit to the team camp in Constantine on Monday night, in company with Member of NFF Board, Alhaji Ganiyu Majekodunmi and General Secretary Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, reiterated that the boys need to give their all to defeat group leaders Morocco and climb to the top of the pool ahead of the final Group B matches on Saturday.
“Let me start by congratulating you on your victory over Zambia on Sunday. It was a tough game but your quality showed in your ability to pick the three points. However, nothing has been won yet. You must go all out against Morocco to achieve victory and bounce back to the top of the group.
“It is important to assure of your qualification to the knock-out rounds early so that you avoid all kinds of permutations before the last match of the group phase. Nigerians are watching and supporting you in scores of millions and you cannot afford to disappoint our people.”
Favour Daniel’s strike from a goalmouth melee, 14 minutes from time, handed the five-time world champions all three points against Zambia at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui on Sunday evening. Morocco defeated South Africa’s Amajimbo 2-0 hours later to leap to the top of the group on a goal advantage over the Eaglets.
As a 12-nation tournament, the first two top-placed teams in each of the three groups will advance to the quarter-finals, alongside the best two third-placed teams. The quarter-final matches will produce the four semi-finalists, who will also automatically qualify as Africa’s representatives at this year’s FIFA U17 World Cup finals.
On Sunday, just before they left the hotel for the stadium, the delegation received Nigeria’s Ambassador to Algeria, Mrs Aisha Muhammed Garba who came with some top-ranking officials of the Embassy of Nigeria, all the way from Algiers. She encouraged the team to aim for the trophy as more than 200 million Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora are rooting for them to triumph at the continental fiesta.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football has named Malian official Ousmane Diakate as referee for Wednesday’s clash between Nigeria and Morocco in Constantine. Queency Clodia Victoire from Mauritius will be assistant referee 1 and Cape Verde’s Djêry Gomes Lopes will be assistant referee 2. Ben Amisy Tsimanohitsy from Madagascar will serve as fourth official.
Negash Teklit Negassi from Eritrea will be the match commissioner and Raphael Evehe Divine from Cameroon will be in the role of referee assessor. Gabonese Eric Otogo Castane will be general coordinator.