Amuneke confident Eaglets will beat Congo DR
The Golden Eaglets would be going for nothing but victory when they face the Junior Leopards of Congo Democratic Republic in an African U-17 Championship on Saturday in Kinshasa.
This much was said by the team’s Head Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke after the team’s final training session on Friday ahead of the match fixed for 3:30pm local time (3:30pm Nigerian time) at the Tata Raphael Stadium.
“We are here to win and it is as simple as that, but we know that the game would not be easy,” said Amuneke who scored match-winning goal when Nigeria won the 1994 African Cup of Nations and Atlanta’96 Olympic Soccer Gold medal.
“We have constantly told the boys that all what we had done in the past are now in the past and the moment of serious business is here for us.”
Keen followers of the team could readily predict the team’s line up after remarkably playing 21 matches undefeated in regulation time (except the penalty shoot-out loss to Benin at the WAFU B Tournament in Togo) fuelling suspicion that the 1994 African Footballer of the Year might stick with his reliable against Congo DR.
“The only difference between Saturday’s match and the ones we had played in the past is just the circumstance because this is one of the qualifiers for U-17 Championship in Niger,” he explained. “So it is important for us to win irrespective of what Congo would throw at us because we know Kinshasa is a difficult place to win matches.”
Typically, Amuneke refrained from picking any particular player as the joker for the match, saying that all the 18 players on the trip are physically and psychologically ready for what is regarded within the rank of the team as ‘The Battle of Kinshasa.’
“Joker? I don’t have any joker for the match,” he bluntly said.
“What we have is a team with winning mentality and we have brought players we believe would do the job for us.”
Meanwhile, Eaglets’ captain, Kelechi Nwakali and gangling striker, Victor Osimhen is however confident Nigeria’s victory.
Osimhen is undoubtedly Golden Eaglets’ inform striker based on recent performance after he scored a brace in the team’s 4-2 win against Egypt in Cairo early this month. He is also one of the team’s top scorers jointly in second position with Suleiman Abdullahi on six goals and behind Kehinde Ayinde on seven.
“My focus now is on the match against Congo (Democratic Republic) and that has always been my style days before an important game,” yelled Victor.
“The good thing is that we have good attacking force in this team and my prayer is that I should be one of our goal scorers against Congo DR.”
The Golden Eaglets have scored an average of three goals per match after amassing an impressive 63 goals in 21 matches under the spell of Coach Emmanuel Amuneke (MON).
Yet Nwakali, who is not far away on the team’s top scorers’ list with four goals including an unforgettable ‘intercontinental ballistic missile’ in the 2-1 win against Abuja College of Football in April, is backing Osimhen to be amongst the goals against the Junior Leopards.
“If there is any player I’m sure of scoring a goal at least against Congo DR, it is Victor because he has improved tremendously,” said Nwakali.
“One other thing I’m also sure about of this match is that we are going to win by the special grace of God.”
He added that anybody fielded against Congo DR on Saturday would do more than enough to ensure the success of the team insisting that the present Golden Eaglets are as gifted as their predecessors that won
the FIFA Under-17 World Cup last year.
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