Ahead of the clash between the Golden Eaglets and their Malian counterparts, Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinninck has charged the Nigerian team to go for the Cup.
The atmosphere in the Golden Eaglets’ locker room soon after they beat Mexico 4-2 on Thursday at the Estadio Municipal Ester Roa was ecstatic and on hand to share the momentous occasion was NFF President Amaju Pinnick, who sang and danced but was quick to refocus the history-chasing Coach Emmanuel Amuneke-led side.
“Today, you convinced Nigerians you are the best and I want to thank you on behalf of Nigerians especially, President Muhammadu Buhari, for playing your hearts out and truly demonstrating the never-say-die Nigerian spirit,” he said amidst intermittent thunderous ovation.
“I’m extremely happy for Emmanuel (Amuneke) because he, along with other officials, have demonstrated that they are good fathers to you all and I’m glad that I was able to withstand the pressure to sack him when the team failed to win the African Championship trophy in Niger Republic.
“Here in Chile, Emmanuel has shamed all the doubting Thomases but I don’t want you to forget that the most important match is against Mali on Sunday. This is a life -time opportunity for you to write your names in gold and you know how appreciative our country can be to winners and heroes. Sunday is the day to write your names into the history books,” Pinnick noted.
Meanwhile, Coach Amuneke, at the post match conference, stated matter-of-factly that African U-17 champions, Mali who came from behind to beat Belgium 3-1 in the other semi final match on Thursday, would be a tough nut to crack.
History will be made on Sunday with the second all-African FIFA U-17 World Cup final since 1993, when Nigeria beat Ghana 2-1 at Japan ’93, and Amuneke posited: “The Malians are the African champions, and we have to respect them. Aside that, they have also had a great tournament here in Chile. But we are a team that finds a way to play and function no matter the difficulty posed by the opposition.”
The 1994 African Footballer of the Year added: “When Sunday comes, we are going to play Mali and I think it is going to be an interesting match but we want to enjoy this moment because this was a great match against a very strong Mexican team .We thank God, we are going to play
the final again on Sunday and this gives us the opportunity to defend the trophy we won in 2013.”