We are now focused on FIFA Junior World Cup, says Garba
Even when their compatriots are still basking in the euphoria of their victory at the just-concluded African Youth Championship (AYC) in Senegal, Chief Coach of the national U-20 team, Manu Garba says the team has put the victory behind and is now focused on excelling at the FIFA Junior World Cup billed for New Zealand in June.
Garba, who spoke in Abuja when the Flying Eagles’ coaching crew went to hand over the AYC trophy to the General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mohammed Sanusi, said the team realised its dream of becoming African junior champions in Senegal.
He added that having won the continental trophy, the focus has now shifted to adding the World Cup to their trophy chest, revealing that the team would be fortified with some overseas-based players, who were not available for join the AYC.
Garba said: “We are very happy today because when we were leaving this country, we made two pledges; to qualify for the World Cup and not only that but to do so as African champions and with God on our side, we have been able to achieve those objectives. The Nigerian team was the only team that did not lose any match, the best team in all the matches we played, won the fair play trophy and won the best player award in each of the games, as well as scoring the highest number of goals at the championship.
“But having said that, I want to say that we have left that victory behind us… we are very well focused on the World Cup coming up later in the year. This is a team that did not play at 100 per cent strength because we had a couple of players that were not released by their clubs. So we still have players, who will be joining us later in the year to compete for places in the World Cup team.”
While welcoming the team at the NFF, the federation’s General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, expressed the body’s satisfaction with the Under-20 team, stressing that the Flying Eagles did not leave anybody in doubt about their desire to win trophies starting from the Super Six pre-season tournament, where the youth team defeated some big league clubs, including league defending champions, Kano Pillars and two time CAF Champions League winners, Enyimba of Aba.