Golden Eaglets’ stars, Ifeanyi Matthew (L) and Musa Muhammed
Four-goal hero in the 12-0 aggregate win over the Diamond Zebras in two international friendlies in Calabar, Ifeanyi Matthew, has vowed to score the goals to fire the Golden Eaglets to win the CAF Under-17 trophy in Morocco.
Nigeria last won the continental cadet competition in 2007 en route to global acclaim at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Korea but Matthew is bullish about the prospects of the current set, adding that he and his colleagues are equally determined to write their names in gold.
“I’m so happy that I was able to score four goals in the two matches against Botswana,” stated Matthew, the junior brother of erstwhile Abuja Road Safety’s player, Chukwuma Matthew and a great admirer of Barcelona’s star midfielder, Xavi.
“All the four goals were very good and importantly, it helped us achieved our goal of winning the matches against Botswana.
“Monday was the first time I scored a hat trick in a match and that memory would stay with me because they were all quality goals.”
Without exaggeration, the goal was as good as Zinedine Zidane's wonder goal in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen when he stuck a lively half volley into the roof of the net.
Against Botswana on Monday, Matthew in a stroke of genius struck a 25-yard volley that left opposing goalkeeper Ezekiel Morake in a pitiful state but the whole of Calabar hailing the goal as being special!
“Of course, everybody has been talking about my second goal in the second match on Monday but it did not come by chance. This is s a result of constant practice and training by our coaches,” he explained. “Our focus now is the competition in Morocco and by the grace of God, we would not disappoint Nigerians.”
The lad has been one of the team’s mainstays but he reckons that nobody is guaranteed a shirt yet in the team hence any player can deliver the goods if given the chance.
“The good thing about our team is that we are all very good and our coaches are never satisfied with our performances,” he noted.
“Right in the dressing room after the match, we were told about our mistakes despite the fact that we won 9-0, so there are huge expectations from everybody but we are praying not to disappoint Nigerians in Morocco.”