Nigeria and Mexico are familiar foes with three games between them at the U-17 World Cup. Both will rekindle their rivalry in the semi final game of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 in the early hours of Friday.
Nigeria and Mexico have met thrice at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, with the Baby El Tri claiming a 1-0 win in a group phase match at Canada 1987, while the Golden Eaglets had the upper hand twice in 2013, when they walloped the Mexicans 6-1 and 3-0 in the group phase and the championship’s final match respectively.
Playing a style founded on relentless attacking play, the Golden Eaglets are led by the prolific striker Victor Osimhen, who has notched eight goals so far and is one of seven players who have contributed to the team’s overall tally of 17, which equates to an impressive average of 3.4 goals per match.
Mexico already have experience of negating free-scoring opponents in this competition, having seen off Germany, who came into their group match with a record of eight goals in two games. In addition, El Tri boast of the second-best defence of the four semi-finalists, with just two goals conceded. Like their opponents, they have been able to share the goals among only seven players contributing a total of ten successful strikes.
The die is now cast and the stage is set, the 30,000 –capacity Estadio Municipal Ester Roa in Concepcion, is the venue where the crucial encounter will take place. Both teams are highly fancied to emerge victorious from Chile 2015, but only one will have the opportunity to prove those predictions right.
Nigeria coach, Emmanuel Amuneke reckons that the Golden Eaglets must, therefore, be at their best against the Baby El Tri who will be hard pressed to avenge their losses at the last tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
“The Mexicans are a very good side and their performance so far at Chile 2015 is an indication that they have a very solid structure back home,” he noted. “But we are working to ensure that the players are mentally ready for this big match.”
Former Super Eagles handler, Austin Eguavoen was quick to remind the Eaglets that they are on the verge of writing their names in the history books if they get to the final and win the trophy.
“The players can’t be complacent at this stage because they have put in so much for them to be crowned the world champions. There is no doubt that Nigeria will be under pressure as the defending champions, so my advice for the players is to be focused, ” Eguavoen said.
Former coach of the Eaglets, Manu Garba, who won the U-17 World Cup for Nigeria in UAE 2013, prays for mother-luck to smile on the team, while another ex Coach of the Eaglets, Fanny Amun stated that the success of the current Eaglets team can only be truly measured when they are promoted to the senior national team.
While they are on the verge of defending the title, Amun maintains that the campaign has achieved more than most Nigerians have envisaged after their dismal showing at the U-17 Cup of Nations in Niger.
President of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick, who flew to Chile to watch the match said : I’m excited with the way the team have played so far, raising our country’s flag very high. The Head Coach (Emmanuel Amuneke) has shown tremendous maturity and has managed the team and everything around it brilliantly.
“Amuneke is the kind of person you would naturally recommend for higher responsibilities. He has clearly rubbished all insinuations and dark innuendoes against him and has continued to do a marvelous job quietly. He has earned his respect.”1
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