The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has enjoined the coaching crew of the National Under-17 team to renew stiff but healthy competition in the team even as new recruits were told emphatically: ‘no automatic shirt in Golden Eaglets.’
This much was said by the duo of Barrister Chris Green, a board member of the NFF/Technical Committee’s Chairman and Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme, Director Technical, at a parley with the team inside the lecture room at the Goal Project just before dinner on Tuesday.
A squad of 30 players pooled from the silver-winning squad at the last African Under-17 Championship in Morocco and budding ones picked after two-weeks of screening at the NFF/ FIFA Goal Project Centre in Abuja would be heading to Calabar to continue build-up ahead of the 2013 World Cup in the UAE.
Speaking in his characteristic frank manner, Green stated matter-of-factly that both the new and old players would be starting from ‘ground zero’ since the NFF is desirous to see the Golden Eaglets mount the podium as world champions yet again since their last accolade in 2007.
“I hope you know we are the best country in the world at the Under-17 level,” Green said. “But it has been a long time that we won the trophy and that is why we are encouraging the coaches to assemble only the best players that can do us proud in the UAE.
“You must have seen that the standard of this team is very high because there is no automatic shirt for any player in the Golden Eaglets or in any of the national teams for that matter and you must have something extra to break into the team,” he added.
Similarly Dr. Ikpeme, a trained sports psychologist, advised the players to be focussed in order not to jeopardise their future, insisting that the NFF would not condone any undisciplined conduct in
“Barrister Green has said it all,” noted Ikpeme“But I just want to let you know that nobody is sure of his position in this team until the final list is made for the World Cup as such, you be the best to be in the team.”
Both Green and Ikpeme commended the coaching crew and the backroom staffs for their unalloyed commitments and sacrifice in building the team that is now the toast of all Nigerians from the scratch.
Meanwhile, the NFF has arranged for all prospective players in the team to undergo the mandatory Magnetic Resonance Test(MRI) at the Abuja National Hospital to ensure that only players within the age bracket as stipulated by FIFA would don the country’s colour at the World Cup in the UAE in October.