Abuja - The minister of sports, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, said on Tuesday that no team at the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup can stop the Golden Eaglets from winning their fourth title.
A statement by Julius Ogunro, the minister’s special assistant on media, quoted the minister as saying that the Eaglets were now unstoppable after their 3-0 defeat of Sweden in the semi- finals.
"I was really impressed by the performance of the boys. It was a delight to watch them beat Sweden; this is certainly Nigeria’s senior team of the future.
"I don’t see Mexico stopping this team in the final. I believe they have sufficiently demonstrated that they have what it takes to win the trophy.
"One amazing quality these boys have is that they can raise their game when the situation demands it; this is no ordinary Nigerian side," Abdullahi was quoted as saying.
The minister, who was at the stadium in the United Arab Emirates to support the team, said the trophy would be a good end-of-the-year gift to President Goodluck Jonathan.
"The team is exceptional and their expected victory will be a good end-of-the-year gift to President Jonathan for his support and abiding commitment to the sports sector’’, he said.
The statement said the minister had travelled to the UAE earlier this week in the company of former Super Eagles Captain Kanu Nwankwo, to cheer and support the players.
Musa Amadu, the general-secretary of the Nigeria Football Federiation (NFF), said the Golden Eaglets have taught Sweden football lesson.
Amadu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the strategy adopted by the Eaglets paid off after they corrected their mistakes in their group encounter with the Swedes which ended 3-3.
"It was a very tough game. We knew the Swedes were going to be very tough particularly given the fact that we played a very tough game with them in the group stage.
"I want to say that the coaches devised a very good strategy and the boys played to instruction; that was why we were able to bring the Swedes crashing," Amadu said.
The NFF scribe said it would be an honour for the association if the Eaglets could lift the trophy and hand it over to President Jonathan to mark Nigeria’s Centenary in 2014.
He urged Nigerians not to relent in their prayers for the team, adding that they needed the prayers to overcome Mexico in the final.
"That final is going to be a very tough game; it is not going to be like the first game where we ran away 6-1 victors.
"The Mexicans are the defending champions and you can see that since that scandalous loss to the Eaglets that they have improved their game.
"That is why they were able to defeat Brazil and Argentina to qualify for the final.
"So, I know it’s going to be a very tough game but I believe we will be able to lift the trophy the fourth time and bring it home to Nigeria if the players do what the coaches tell them to do," he added.
Bitrus Bewarang, the president of the Nigeria Coaches Association, said the Eaglets were able to defeat the Swedes because they played with determination unlike their previous encounter that ended 3-3.
"The Eaglets learnt their lesson in a very hard way after the 3-3 draw with Sweden in their group game.
"Their first match in the tournament with Mexico gave them a false belief that they have arrived.
"With the 6-1 defeat of the defending champions (Mexico), they thought everything will just be easy.
"But they retraced their steps and I can tell you that the team worked hard and were more determined this time around and as such the goals started coming," Bewarang said.
He expressed optimism that the Eaglets would beat the Mexicans the second time.
"I am very confident that we will defeat the Mexicans in the final because we defeated them 6-1 in the group stage.
"Coming from behind to equalise the 3-3 against Sweden in the group match also shows that we have a good team.
"This is an opportunity for our players to prove to the world that they are football stars.
"The Eaglets are very tactical. None of our defenders are jittery and for them to reach this far, I don’t think they will miss the trophy.
"The Eaglets have said it’s the trophy or nothing and with Mexico defeating Argentina 3-0 and Nigeria thrashing Sweden 3-0 it shows that the final will be tough.
"However, I am confident that the Eaglets will lift the trophy,’’ Bewarang added.