Golden Eaglets coach, Manu Garba (MFR)
Ahead of the 10th African Under-17 Championship to be hosted in Morocco in April, the National Under-17 team will open its preparatory camp in Calabar on Saturday, February 2.
The self-styled New Nigeria Golden Eaglets under coach Manu Garba (MFR), who qualified for the championship last December after winning its six qualifying matches, have been drawn against two West African rivals, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and 2011 second runner-up, Congo-Brazzaville at the championship to be held between April 13 and 27.
Team secretary, Tayo Egbaiyelo, said the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has directed that the invited 30 players as well as the technical and backroom staffs should report to the team’s Princeville Hotel Camp in Calabar this weekend.
Coach Garba said it is imperative that the team kick-starts the preparation towards the championship in Calabar with its impeccable facilities and security even as he thanked both the Cross River State Government and the NFF for its prompt approval.
“Calabar is ideal for our preparations because we have quite a number of grounds that we can train and not forgetting the fact that it has a good security network,” stated Garba.
“Whatever we have achieved with the Golden Eaglets is based on the excellent support from the NFF as well as the people and government of the Cross River State.”
Golden Eaglets, three-time winners of the global championships return to the continental fiesta after failing to qualify for the last two editions hosted by Algeria and Rwanda respectively in 2009 and 2011.
The semi finalists at the final tournament in Morocco will represent Africa at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates next October and Garba stated that he is not oblivious of the task ahead hence the need to start preparation in earnest.
“We are starting from where we stopped last year when we secured the ticket for the Championship in Morocco,” stated the vastly-experienced coach who assisted late coach Yemi Tella when Nigeria won both the African Under-17 Championship and the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2007.
“Adequate preparation has been the key to our success so far and we are not going to rest on our oars.”