Abakaliki - Nigeria's Golden Eaglets are the future of the country’s soccer and should be nurtured to win laurels, football fans in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi capital, said on Monday.
The stakeholders made the assertion while reacting to the team’s 6-1 routing of the Black Starlets of Ghana on Sunday in its opening match of the 10th CAF U-17 competition in Morocco.
The Eaglets have continued their scoring spree from the qualifiers where they scored a whooping 21 goals and conceded only two.
Chief Obinna Ogba, a former Nigerian Football Association (NFA) Vice-Chairman, commended the team’s scintillating performance, saying that it showed that the team was formidable.
"It has proven that its spending runs during the qualifiers were no fluke, as it has maintained the same standard it exhibited during the series.
"The team is poised to become the greatest youth team in the country and on the continent, surpassing the 1985, 1993 and 2007 feats,” he said.
Maxwell Ifediba, a 2001 Eaglets invitee, said the players had not been distracted by the dropping of three of their colleagues for failure to conduct the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan before the competition.
"The structure of the team remains intact in spite of the fact that it is now left with 18 players instead of the required 21.
"The routing of the highly favoured Ghanaian team shows that the Golden Eaglets possess the prowess to become Africa and World Champions," he said.
Also reacting, Osmond Osankwa, the Team Manger of Nehuda FC, the runners-up of Ebonyi 2012 Federation Cup, attributed Eaglets’ success to the transparent manner the players were selected.
"This is the first time in history that players of a national youth team were selected through a transparent screening which gave room for only the best to be chosen.
"Coach Manu Garba even confirmed that Success Isaac, the four-goal hero against Ghana, and the team’s all-time highest scorer, came uninvited during screening in Calabar and was given a chance to prove his mettle," he said.
A youth leader in Izzi Local Government Area, Mr Basil Ivom, urged the handlers of the Flying Eagles to tap from the attacking and team organisation secrets of the Golden Eaglets.
"The Flying Eagles failed in these aspects during the African Youth Championship in Algeria and such corrective measures will ensure a better performance at the U-20 World Cup in Turkey in June," he said.
On her part, Mrs Chinyere Mgbada, a civil servant, called for prayers for the team as football is an unpredictable sport.
"The team still needs God’s grace in spite of its splendid performance because results in football can turn negative when least expected."