By Sedara Philip
Nigeria’s U17 boys under the tutelage of FIFA Cadet World Cup-winning captain Nduka Ugbade are gearing up for a final training camp in Germany ahead of the Africa U17 Cup of Nations due in Algeria between 29 April – 19 May.
Last summer, the Golden Eaglets swept aside all before them to win the WAFU B U17 Championship in Cape Coast, Ghana which made them eligible for a spot at the continental finals.
In February, the Eaglets had an extended training camp in Abuja, where the technical crew seized the opportunity to evaluate more players, and then went on break. Since resuming camp in Abuja a fortnight ago, following the country’s general elections, the team has played nine friendly matches, winning eight and drawing one.
The five-time world champions have also scored 50 goals and conceded 11 goals. The latest friendly games were against Galadima FC on Easter Sunday, whom they defeated 3-1, and against V.P. Sports which they pounded 10-2 on Tuesday.
Ugbade, who captained Nigeria’s U16 team to FIFA World Cup victory in China in 1985, and was a key player for the U20 team that finished as runners-up at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia four years later, insists that the technical crew is not resting on its oars as they get set to pick the team that will go on the final training camp and onwards to Algeria.
“We continue to work hard as we look forward to the championship in Algeria. Our objective has not changed: we go hard for the World Cup ticket and then we aim for the trophy. First target is a ticket to the World Cup finals, and then we take things from there.
“I have confidence in the squad we have been able to build, even as we are still utilizing every minute, every hour to tinker with what we have and see how it can get better. We have a tough act to follow in that Nigeria has won the World Cup five times in this category, and nothing we do will be seen as special. However, we know that if we can win the Africa Cup, it will be a stepping stone to joining the great squads that have won the World Cup for Nigeria,” said Ugbade who was also part of the Super Eagles’ squad that qualified Nigeria for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 1993, and won the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 1994.