Lagos - Nduka Ugbade, one of the Assistant Coaches of the Golden Eaglets, on Tuesday expressed joy at having Mexico-- FIFA U-17 World Cup defending champions--in the same Group F as Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the group also includes Sweden and Iraq at the competition billed for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Oct. 17 to Nov. 8.
Ugbade, the Eaglets skipper at the maiden edition of the U-17 World Cup in China in 1985, told NAN on telephone that the group would be keenly contested.
“Matches in the group will be keenly contested like it is the World Cup itself.”
“It is good having the defending champions fighting for placement alongside the Eaglets in the group stages: because keenly contested matches will be displayed all through the group matches.”
“The group matches are not going to be easy because it is like a preview to the tournament and what you see at the group stages is the exact of the championship,” Ugbade said.
He said the Eaglets would not allow its failure to feature in the last edition of the competition to affect its preparation and performance.
“Although, there will be pressure on the Eaglets at the competition because it did not participate at the last edition, the players will not allow such to affect their performance at the championship.”
“The players are being groomed to take every match as it comes and give it all their best, not bothering about our absence at the last edition of the championship,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Eaglets arrived in Uyo on Aug. 25 with 35 players for a week-long camping ahead of the competition, and would later return to Calabar to continue their camping.
NAN reports that the 15th edition of the competition will hold in six UAE cities, namely: Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.
The other venues are: Sharjah Stadium in Sharjah, Rashid Stadium in Dubai and Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain.
A total of 52 matches will be played in the UAE’s top stadia, including the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the Emirates Stadium in Ras Al Khaimah and the Fujairah Stadium in Fujairah.