UEFA Tourney: Future Eagles fly to Spain on Tuesday

Nigeria’s U15 boys, nicknamed Future Eagles, will fly into Spain on Tuesday afternoon for a UEFA U16 Development Tournament to which the African giants have been invited.

The special invitation has come as a result of Nigeria’s pedigree in youth football, in which she has won five world titles at U17 boys’ level and reached the FIFA World Cup final on two occasions at U20 level.

As part of its preparation for the tournament, the Future Eagles trained for a week at the Remo Stars’ Sports Institute in Ikenne, during which it played two matches against the Remo Stars’ U16 boys (Beyond Limits FC), winning one and losing the other.

Only last month, the Future Eagles, coached by Patrick Bassey, also won one and lost one against their Moroccan counterparts on a two-match tour of that North African country. Their first game ended in a 2-3 defeat, but they buckled up to win the second game 5-3 in the city of Kenitra.

The UEFA U16 Tournament, which brings warm memories of the UEFA-CAF U17 Meridian Tournament that started in 1997 but was discontinued a decade after, will take place at the Pinatar Arena Football Centre in San Pedro del Pinatar.

It can be recalled that the UEFA-CAF Meridian Tournament was part of a cooperation agreement between UEFA and CAF, and Nigeria won the inaugural tournament in 1997. The Eaglets defeated the Spain U17 team 3-2 in the final in Lisbon, Portugal.

Spain won the next three tournaments hosted by South Africa (1999), Italy (2001) and Egypt (2003) before France broke their run by winning the 2005 edition hosted by Turkey. The tournament was abolished in 2007.

At this new tournament, the Future Eagles will play against Belgium on Friday, 12th April (8pm), face Italy on Sunday, 14th April (8pm) and square up to England on Wednesday, 17th April (1pm). Other games will see England against Italy on Friday, 12th April 5pm), England against Belgium on Sunday, 14th April (5pm) and Italy against Belgium on Wednesday, 17th April (11am).

The Future Eagles’ delegation to Spain, inclusive of 20 players, will be led by Zannah Mohammed Malah, a member of the NFF Technical and Development Committee.