Two-time champions Nigeria and West African rivals Guinea will clash at the National Stadium, Dar es Salaam this afternoon in what is a much-anticipated first semi final of the ongoing Africa U17 Cup of Nations.
Nigeria has been victorious at the continental tournament on two occasions, in 2001 and 2007, and are the record winners of the FIFA U17 World Cup (five times). The Golden Eaglets are also taking part in their 9th U17 AFCON. An intimidating pedigree that is bound to send jitters into Guinea’s camp.
However, Guinea also come into the encounter with some recent eye –popping accomplishments. The Junior Syli Nationale are the reason why Cup holders Mali are not in Tanzania, having beaten the Malians at the WAFU A Tournament in September to earn their ticket.
The Guineans also flaunt victories over Senegal (another team highly respected in youth football) and Morocco in the group phase as they set to trade tackles with the Golden Eaglets this afternoon.
With all four teams in the semi finals (Nigeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Angola) having secured their places at the FIFA U17 World Cup taking place in Brazil later in the year, there would be no pulling punches as all of them focus on being in Sunday’s final in Tanzania’s capital.
The Guineans are making their seventh appearance at the Africa U17 Cup of Nations which began in Mali 24 years ago.
Coach Manu Garba is most likely to start with his regular squad, meaning Sunday Stephen in goal, Shedrack Tanko and Ogaga Oduko as wingbacks, Clement Ikenna and David Ishaya at centreback, captain Samson Tijani, Mayowa Abayomi (or Fawaz Abdullahi) and Olatomi Olaniyan in the midfield, and Akinkunmi Ayobami Amoo, Olakunle Olusegun and Wisdom Ubani at the fore.
In the second semi final, kicking off a few hours later at the same venue, Cameroon and Angola will clash in what is expected to be another enthralling encounter.