Abuja - Players of the National U-17 team, Golden Eaglets, on Thursday apologised to Nigerians over their 0-1 loss to the Junior Elephants of Ivory Coast at the ongoing U-17 African Youth Championship (AYC).
This is contained in a statement signed by the team's spokesperson, Morakinyo Abodunrin, who quoted the assistant captain, Isaac Success as saying "it was unfortunate the team lost because they wanted to win".
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Golden Eaglets had on Wednesday lost to the Ivoriens in its second Group B match of the championship.
The team had on April 14 thrashed the Black Starlets of Ghana 6-1 in the opening game of the continental championship which kicked off on April 13.
"We are deeply sorry about what happened on Wednesday against Ivory Coast because we wanted to win and we went into the field with that positive mind set but it was unfortunate that we lost.
"We are using this opportunity to beg Nigerians and we promise them a better performance, starting with the game against Congo Brazzaville on Saturday.
"We are determined more than ever to do our best and by the grace of God, we won’t disappoint Nigerians on Saturday," the statement said.
It said the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) also expressed confidence in the ability of the team to secure qualification to the U-17 World Cup later in the year.
"It was unfortunate that the Golden Eaglets lost to Ivory Coast but this is just a setback and wake up call for the boys to do more.
"But my faith in these boys remains unshaken and I know they would make it up when they play against Congo on Saturday.
"My confidence is reinforced after observing the reaction of the team after the unexpected loss to Ivory Coast, I just want to urge Nigerians to keep faith with the lads.
"This is because we are not just overrating these boys, we have seen what they can do even against supposedly better teams.
"They have taken the defeat as part of their learning process because they have beaten others in the past, so it’s a wake up call for them.
"We still have great hope in these boys and by the grace of God they would qualify for the World Cup on Saturday."
NAN reports that the Eaglets must win their next match against Congo Brazzaville on Saturday to qualify for the semi-final stage.
The qualification also means securing a ticket for the U-17 World Cup in United Arab Emirates in October.
The team is second in the group with three points after Ivory Coast who have 4 points.
Congo Brazzaville is the third with two points and Ghana is the last with one point.