President of Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick has applauded the six-star performance of the Golden Eaglets in routing Australia to reach the FIFA U-17 World Cup quarter -finals on Wednesday.
The Cup holders started slowly as the Aussies swamped all over the pitch at the Estadio Sausalito in Vina del Mar, but the tactically aware and inventive Eaglets waited for the right time to land the sucker punch, and then took the game by the jugular as the young boys from Down Under literally went down under the superior savvy and precision of the world champions.
“I must start by pouring encomiums on the players and officials of the Golden Eaglets, not just for the victory over Australia that has taken us closer to the objective of retaining the trophy, but also for their general comportment and discipline which has been acknowledged by all at the World Cup in Chile.
“They have been doing the nation proud. The victories over USA, host Chile and now Australia were well –deserved, because they toiled and invented and never let up, even when leading the opposition. Even when they lost to Croatia, they played with their hearts. The NFF is very proud of Coach Emmanuel Amuneke and the players,” stated Pinnick.
Before the players departed for Argentina for their final training camp, Pinnick met with Coach Amuneke and the players and charged them to do everything they could to retain the trophy, won for an unprecedented fourth time for Nigeria by the Manu Garba –led Class of 2013. The NFF boss reminded the players and coaches that President Muhammadu Buhari was the first Nigerian leader to receive the FIFA Cadet World Cup, in his first coming as a military Head of State in 1985. That year, Nduka Ugbade led the squad that won the inaugural tournament in China.
“I assure you that President Buhari will also be waiting to receive the trophy again this time, and you all would be the first group of footballers to be hosted specially by the President,” said Pinnick.
On the eve of their first match against USA in Santiago, the players and coaches received an even heftier charge from President Muhammadu Buhari himself, telling them to go for the trophy.
“The NFF is happy with the progress the team has been making, but I want them to focus hard on the challenges ahead and know that the trophy is the ultimate. They are so close to glory but they must be focused and have strong mental attitude on the field of play.”
The Eaglets take on Brazil for a place in the semi finals at the now –familiar Estadio Sausalito in Vina del Mar (where they pounded host Chile 5-1 and victimized Australia 6-0) on Sunday (starting 8pm Nigeria time).