Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets will be gunning for their second win at the African U17 Championship in Niger on Wednesday when they face their Guinean counterparts.
It is a straight battle for one of the semifinal tickets in Group A after both teams won their opening games Nigeria beat hosts Niger 2-0, while Guinea beat Zambia 1-0 in what was considered a much better display than what the Eaglets showed.
Both teams have met twice in this competition in 1995 when Nigeria won 2-1 in a group game and drew 2-2 in another group game in 2001.
They were billed to clash in the final in 2001, but Guinea were disqualified due to a FIFA ban on them for government interference in football running and replaced by Burkina Faso, who Nigeria thrashed 3-0.
Guineans best shot in this competition was reaching the 2001 final and winning bronze medal in 1995 edition.
The top-of-the-table clash at the Stade General Seyni Kountche starts at 3pm and the winner will automatically become the first African flag bearers at the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals in Chile later in the year.
Nigeria Football Federation , NFF director of competitions, Mohammed Sanusi, who is in Niamey with the team, said a victory is non-negotiable as Nigeria look to book an early ticket to the finals in Chile to go and defend the world title.
“We are the champions of the world, and that we must underscore boldly here. The Eaglets did well to win their first match against the host nation despite all the odds against them. There is no way Guinea will stand up to our boys on Wednesday.
“The NFF have provided everything the team need to succeed and we expect nothing but victory against the Guineans.”
Meanwhile, Golden Eaglets coach Emmanuel Amuneke has warned that Guinea will be tricky customers in the crucial CAF U17 Championship clash in Niamey
“We are not getting carried away after the victory against Niger because we know Guinea can be tricky after watching them against Zambia,” noted Amuneke.
“We came here with one objective: To qualify for the World Cup in Chile and after that we can begin to talk about other things.
You can see that if you allow them, they can play but if you follow our instructions, we would all have reason to celebrate after the game.”
Already, the Nigerian camp has indentified gifted number 11-shirted Abddoulaye Jules Keita as the lynchpin in the Guinean line-up as well as captain Mohammed Mary Kurume who holds forth in defence, not forgetting agile goalkeeper Mousa Camara, who foiled Zambia repeatedly on Sunday.
The Guineans will seek to avenge their twin loss to their Nigerian counterparts on the road to the last championship in Morocco following a 3-0 and 4-0 win in Calabar and Conakry, respectively.
Eagles May Play Home Games In Abuja
Plans are underway to have the Super Eagles move their home games to Abuja after Dangote Group handed over the rehabilitated MoshoodAbiola National Stadium, Abuja to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
Contractors, Aron Nigeria Limited, handed over the rehabilitated stadium to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Friday.
The rehabilitation work was carried out on the main bowl pitch and scoreboard.
Tidesports source reports that Dare had clamoured for the return of the Eagles to Abuja on several occasions, stating the need to have a permanent home stadium.
The Eagles last played at the Abuja stadium in 2012
“It is my wish that the Super Eagles and indeed the national teams of Nigeria, like elsewhere, have a permanent venue to play their matches rather than playing from one place to another,” Dare said last month while speaking to State House correspondents.
“There are great benefits for countries’ national teams to have a particular venue where the players understand very well. I believe very soon the Super Eagles will be playing their matches in Abuja or Lagos if the national stadium is fully ready too.”
In the last 10 years, the Eagles have played their home games at the GodswillAkpabio Stadium Uyo, Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin and AdokiyeAmiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt.
They, however, made a return to Lagos after 10 years and for the first time for a competitive match in 20 years when they played Lesotho in the 2022 World Cup qualifier at the TeslimBalogun Stadium on March 30.
They ended up playing their remaining World Cup qualifiers and the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in Lagos.
While the Eagles were hoping to make the TeslimBalogun Stadium their new home, news emerged last week that the Confederation of African Football had banned the stadium from hosting matches.
In a letter dated October 17, which was sent to the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mohammed Sanusi,CAF said the stadium “lacks the CAF criteria and requirements in order to properly host international competitions”.
The letter signed by CAF Development Director Raul Chipenda said the stadium failed to implement the recommendations addressed to the NFF after the previous inspection.
Court Bars Bash Ali From Defaming Minister
Justice O.C. Agbaza of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has issued a restraining order, barring Bash Ali from further making or publishing any denigrating or defamatory material against the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare.
Tidesports source reports that the Minister had far back as June 25, 2021, approached the Federal High Court, Abuja division seeking a restraining order and charging Bash Ali with libel and defamation of character.
The lawyers to the minister from the Keyamo Chambers spent months unable to serve Bash and the judicial workers strike. Upon resumption and with the serial defamation by Bash Ali continuing, the lawyers approached the court. This time, the Keyamo team and Wole Olanipekun team as counsels secured the restraining order.
It would be recalled that sometime in April 2021, Bash Ali had in a letter, which he made available to the public, made several allegations against the Minister.
The Minister denied those allegations and to assert his innocence, the Minister filed Suit No. FCT/HC/CV/1269/2021seeking injunctive reliefs and pecuniary damages from Bash Ali on account of the defamatory publication.
Despite the pendency of this suit, Bash Ali recently published a video on social media in which he repeated those false allegations against the Minister and also issued several threats against the Minister and the Ministry.
Nigeria’s Saidu Elected As Commonwealth Handball Scribe
Nigeria’s Jibril Saidu has been elected the new secretary of the Commonwealth Handball Association.
The election, which took place via zoom on Monday, saw Saidu emerging unopposed but still polled 100 percent of the available votes.
Saidu,a former player became the second Nigerian to be elected as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Handball Association succeeding General Ishola Williams who held the same position for almost three decades.
Also, Ruth Saunders, former President of South Africa Handball Federation defeated Steve Neilson of Scotland to become the first woman president of the Association.
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