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Tension Grips Flying Eagles As Coach Draws World Cup List

Oladipo Okubanjo

Palpable fear currently pervades the atmosphere at the Nuremberg, Germany, camp of Nigeria’s junior national team, with coach Manu Garba set to announce names of his World Cup-bound players in a few days time.

The Flying Eagles captain, Musa Mohammed, revealed this much while declaring the resolve of his the team to reproduce the kind of performance that saw him and teammates, then as members of the Golden Eaglets, win the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. “We have trained very hard, we are focused, we have the quality and we are ready to make history again,” he said. “We will give everything to win the World Cup in New Zealand.”

Mohammed, currently in camp with his colleagues at the Flying Eagles camp in Nuremberg, is optimistic of being included in Nigeria’s final 21-man team to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, but reckoned making the cut would be survival of the fittest as all the 36 players in the build-up camp want to be at the competition. “The coach picks the team and I will be very proud and happy to make the final squad.

No one has an automatic shirt in the team, we all have to fight to be selected and the competition has been very fierce. “In fact, there is a lot of tension in the team, every one of us is fighting to make the final squad. We are all putting our lives on the line to be on the flight to New Zealand. The coaches now have the chance to pick the best to represent Nigeria,” said Mohammed.

The Flying Eagles will go into the competition in New Zealand as African champions having won the African Youth Championship early in the year, and when asked if players like Kelechi Iheanacho, Isaac Success and Wilfred Ndidi, who missed the AYC in Congo, would strengthen the squad to New Zealand, Muhammed retorted: “The players you have mentioned we all started out at the Under-17 and   so they know how we play and our formation. They have been very much part of the bigger team at some point in time. This means competition for places will be tougher.

“We are a team, we play collectively, we play as a team and I believe each one of us who is selected will give his best for the country I believe.” Nestled in Group E of the World Cup along with five-time champions Brazil, North Korea and Hungry, not a few aver the Flying Eagles would have their hands full against the Brazilians, but the Nigerian captain is unfazed.

He said: “Brazil is Brazil and Nigeria is Nigeria. Everyone is talking about Brazil, but they ought to also be talking about Nigeria. “We respect all the teams in our group, but we will approach each game as a World Cup final.

We are up to the challenge. We are driven to succeed.” The Flying Eagles arte expected to face the Under-23 team of German Bundesliga club, Hoffeinheim, today, in the first of their build-up games to the World Cup.

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