A top official of Al-Sadd Sports Club of Doha has tipped the Golden Eaglets as a one of the favourites to lift the forthcoming CAN Under-17 Championship to be held in Morocco April 13-27.
Though the defeat of the Qatari foremost club by the Golden Eaglets last Friday at the posh Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium still rankles some local fans, Mohammed Saeed Al Hassan, an executive with Doha Bank who doubles as the Team Manager of Al Sadd, has shown rare sportsmanship
by admitting the superiority of the Nigerian lads.
“We never knew your team is strong," Mohammed demurred with a smile as he exchanged greetings with Golden Eaglets' officials. “Of course, we knew the team is good but we never knew they are strong mentally."
The Golden Eaglets did a yeoman’s job to earn a hard-won victory against a team that paraded legendary Spaniard, Raul Gonzalez amongst other Qatari national team players.
“This is an important victory for your team and I have no doubt that you will qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup," the amiable Alhassan further said.
"We wish you the best at the African championship in Morocco as well."
Nigerians who were at the stadium were equally impressed with the performance of the Golden Eaglets, praying the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) should groom the team into the next level.
“As a Nigerian, I’m so happy to watch these boys against Al-Sadd," stated Ilesanmi Ajisafe, the Aquatic Coach at the Aspire Academy of Sports Excellence.
"Apart from the fact that they won against a strong team like Al-Sadd, I was impressed with their quality and high level performance.”
Be that as it may, Golden Eaglets' assistant coach, Emmanuel Amuneke said the players as well as the officials are not getting carried away with the outpouring of praises to the team that has remained unbeaten in 26 matches.
"The truth is that this team has not won anything," Amuneke, proud recipient of the 1994 African Footballer of the Year award said.
"So, we remain focused about our objective and we just want Nigerians to be steadfast with their prayers for these young boys."