Lagos - Issa Hayatou, the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) expressed the continent’s support of the local men’s junior football team which is on the verge of creating history by winning a fourth Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) Under 17 World Cup title.
Hayatou, in a visit to the players in company of his deputy, Almamy Camara and FIFA Executive Committee member, Mohamed Raouraoua, praised the resilience of the Nigerian youngsters ahead of the semifinal showdown against Sweden.
The match is scheduled for later on Tuesday in the United Arab Emirates.
Urging the players to make the African continent proud by winning the tournament, Hayatou said, “You have displayed a high level of skill and intelligence in this tournament that we have not seen in an African team for a long time. I am not surprised at your progress here because I saw you at the CAN U-17 Championship in Morocco and I was highly impressed. I am particularly excited with your performance against Uruguay, despite missing a number of injured players. I believe you are already in the final. The African football family is fully behind you,” Hayatou said.
Hayatou also charged the boys not to read much into Nigeria’s earlier triumphs in the competition but focus on writing their own names in gold.
“Yes, Nigeria has won the competition three times before, but that was done by other players. Now, it is your opportunity to write your own names in gold. I believe you have the talent, intelligence and resilience to go all the way,” he said.
President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Maigari, who received the CAF President, lauded the visit and assured that the Super Eaglets were fully motivated for the semi final scheduled for the Rashid Stadium in Dubai.
“It is a huge honour to have the CAF President visit any team in the middle of a tournament, because of his very tight schedule. We are assuring you that our boys are able and ready to do the African continent proud,” said Maigari.
Head Coach, Manu Garba, who calls his boys “great warriors of Africa,” said Hayatou’s visit was a massive motivation and the Eaglets could not fail Africa at this stage.
“We will take our remaining challenges in the tournament one at a time, starting with the semi final against Sweden,” he said.
– CAJ News