…As Nigeria face Australia At U17 World Cup
If past form is anything to go by, fourtime champions Nigeria should be relaxed going into their duel with Australia, but coach Emmanuel Amuneke has urged his players to guard against complacency in today’s Round-of-16 game at the ongoing FIFA Under17 World Cup in Chile.
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets have won all five of the two teams’ previous meetings at the U17 World Cups, scoring 12 goals along the way while conceding just two, with the Eaglets beating the Joeys 2-1 when the two sides last faced each other in 2003.
In the days leading up to the knockout stage of the competition in Chile, several coaches have expressed the view that “a new tournament starts here”. As eight teams head home after the group stage, a further 16 sides continue their bids for the title.
“At this stage, everybody that has qualified must be respected,” said Amuneke. “They (Australia) are a very good side because we saw their match against Argentina and we have to respect them.”
Insisting that his charges must be at their best in the knockout stages, Amuneke said: “We have to let the players realise that the stage we are in now is crucial and it needs high level of concentration from them.”
Not a few agreed the player to watch out for as the knock games get underway is the Nigerian striker, Victor Osimhen, whose four goals and one assist make him the highest scoring player in the group stages.
If he does go on to collect the Adidas Golden Boot, he will become the third Nigerian to be named top goalscorer at a FIFA U-17 World Cup after Macauley Chrisantus in 2007 and Wilson Oruma back in 1993.
– Oladipo Okubanjo