African U-17 Preview: Nigeria v Ghana

Ghana begin their march towards something special at the 2013 African Junior Championships on Sunday with an opening match against rivals, Nigeria.

The build-up to the game in Marrakech has been soiled with the disqualification of three Golden Eaglet players after they failed the mandatory pre-competition age-cheating test to verify that players fall within the under 17 years age bracket.

Unlike Nigeria, Ghana’s U-17 men’s team remains intact after the test passed the all members of the Black Starlets squad, making them eligible to play at the competition.

Despite the setback, the Black Starlets, two-time World and African champions are aware of the high stakes that any meeting with their West African rivals generates.

After missing the last two finals of the African championships, Paa Kwesi Fabin’s team know that a good start, especially against their rivals will set them up on their way to far bigger things.

But Nigeria coach Manu Garba draws strength from the performances of his Golden Eaglets during their pre-tournament preparations.

“I am excited about this tournament as it will provide an opportunity to test what has been a project and a journey with this team,” said Garba before the sad episode of seeing his three players ruled out after they failed the MRI test on Friday to check if they fall within the under 17 category.

“I feel good about the fact that one year after; most of those boys I picked initially are still with this team and now we are ready to bear the fruits of our labour.”