I am elated about the performance of the U-17 National Team, Golden Eaglets not only because of the result they had in Bamako on Sunday, but because their outing capped a remarkable year for Nigeria football and at the same time, qualification offers further development for the young lads.
If we consider that these boys are widely touted as the team to grow for the future, one woud understand very well what non-qualification would have been. Two weeks ago, on this same page, I wrote about the fact that African federations don’t need to cheat ain age-grade football. It is time that we all rise up against the cankerworm called age cheating and look to do things differently.
When I saw the Malian players at the U. J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar during the first leg match, I was embarrassed. That was why the Nigeria Football Federation decided to send an official protest to Caf, based on the physique and body weight of the opponents.
Some analysts have been saying unpalatable things about the decision of the NFF to protest, insinuating that Nigeria used to also field players with huge physique and body weight at that level. That does not matter. What matters is that we have decided to put a stop to it, and we are reaping the benefits gradually.
The boys of Manu Garba, Emmanuel Amuneke, Nduka Ugbade and Emeka Amadi have started very well. I would not say they have done very well because they still have a long way to go. But they have started very well, and their future in the game looks bright.
If the team had not qualified for the African U-17 Championship, it would have been calamity for the project that is on, and would also have been unfair to sincerity and fairplay. Now that the boys have qualified, the project is well on stream and the players’ development continues.
Some of the members of NFF Executive Committee cannot stop talking about the new Golden Eaglets (I understand they call themselves, New Nigeria Golden Eaglets). Someone like Alhaji Muazu Suleyman (chairman of the Referees Committee) who has led the team’s delegation to the three away matches thinks they are the future.