HEAD coach of world cadet champions, the Golden Eaglets, Manu Garba, has urged Nigerians to pray for the current set of the national U-17 team to succeed in their quest to qualify for next year’s African U-17 Championship, holding in Madagascar.
Speaking against the backdrop of the failure of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) by some members of the squad, Garba told journalists at the National Stadium, Abuja, over the weekend, that the Eaglets coaching crew had to make do with the players left after the MRI screening to face the Junior Menas of Niger Republic, which the Nigerian side narrowly pipped 1-0.
Twenty-three out of the 60 players, including nine out of the first XI the coaches were working on, failed the mandatory MRI screening conducted recently to determine the ages of the players as mandated by world football-governing body, FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Garba, who led the Eaglets to win the cadet World Cup in 2013, described the MRI failure as “fate”, declaring that the coaches could not question what doctors did.
“That is fate. We are left with the only players on ground. We have already lost some players and we are left with the players on the ground.
“We cannot question what the doctors have done. I am not a doctor and I am not their fathers. Even players that we picked from secondary schools have not scaled through the test,” Garba stated.
While assuring that the cadet national side would be beefed up, Garba called for prayers for the players on ground to scale through the Nigerien hurdle.
“Nigerians should be prayerful for this team that is left on the ground. God willing, by the time we scale through, we are going to look for more players to beef up the team,” he declared.
Speaking on the return fixture against the Junior Menas in Niamey in a fortnight, Garba expressed confidence that despite their slim victory in Abuja, the Eaglets we’re going to win, saying that, “we are very confident that we will scale through by God’s grace.”
He said last weekend’s match between the two sides was the Eaglets’ first international outing, which he described as an opener, adding that the coaching crew had noticed all the lapses in the team and would work on them before the second leg African Championship qualifier.
The coach noted that the Junior Menas would be under pressure in front of their compatriots during the return match in Niger, adding that, that would be an advantage for the Eaglets to win.
“We have seen all the lapses and we are going to work on these young lads. This is the first international game they are playing and I believe that it is an opener.
“They (Nigeriens) are going to be under pressure over there. By God’s grace, I assure Nigerians that we are going to win in Niger and come out smiling back home because we cannot afford to go out at this stage of the competition,” Garba declared.
…As team moves to Sokoto ahead Niger rematch
Nigeria U17 coach Manu Garba has told AfricanFootball.com his team will set up a training camp in Sokoto a week to an U17 AFCON qualifier second leg match in Niger.
The Eaglets won the first leg 1-0 in Abuja on Saturday with the return leg in Niamey on August 20.
“We will train and acclimatize in Sokoto a week to the match in Niger,” Manu disclosed.
The coach also expressed confidence the Eaglets will do the double over their opponents.
“We will beat them in Niger by God’s grace,” he said.
“We have seen the lapses with these youngsters, who were playing only their first international game.
“I assure Nigerians we will be smiling again after the match in Niger because we cannot afford to go out at this stage of the competition.”