Niamey - Golden Eaglets Head Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, has
predicted a tough test for his wards when they open their 11th African U-17
Championship account against Niger at the Stade Général Seyni Kountché (SGSK)
in Niamey on Sunday.
The former Barcelona star believed a win against the host
would set a good omen as Nigeria push for the trophy yet again. Golden Eaglets nearly
won the championship the last time in Morocco but lost to Cote d'Ivoire in a
dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout after a pulsating 1-1 draw.
"The first game is very important and we want to win
irrespective of the fact that we are meeting Niger," said Amuneke who
scored a brace in the 2-1 win over Zambia at 1994 African Cup of Nations Final
"Of course, we know it is never going to be an easy
match because both teams would like to win."
He said he was not oblivious about the huge test of playing
against the host in front of a partisan crowd, adding his wards must gird their
"We have told the players in clear terms that we want nothing
but victory against Niger. It's never going to be easy but we must be
tactically and psychologically sound for this match."
Golden Eaglets, who are drawn in Group A, would subsequently
play Guinea and Zambia on February 18 and 22 respectively, but Amuneke further
stated that the focus of the team is Sunday's match against Niger.
"Mentally, we must be prepared for the home team but if
we win, it will put us on course for other matches."
Meanwhile, the Golden Eaglets have started their build up
towards Sunday's opening fixture against Niger with impressive sessions at the practice
pitch of Stade Général Seyni Kountché (SGSK) on Friday.
All the 21 players featured in the Morning session with
players put under their paces in fitness exercises, passing drill, marking
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