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Age-grade championships are for talents hunt, says Onigbinde


Flying Eagles

Following the anger expressed by some Nigerians after the Flying Eagles of Nigeria finished fourth at the just ended Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niamey, Niger Republic, former Super Eagles coach, Adegboye Onigbinde has reminded Nigerians that the essence of the event was to feed each nation’s senior national team.

Despite not winning the championship in Niamey, Nigeria remains the most successful country in the U-20 tournament on the continent; having won it a record seven times.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, the former FIFA’s instructor said the reason for its introduction was to discover talents, harness, and nurture for the senior national teams of every member nation of the FIFA.


“The major reason for organising the U-20 World Cup was to develop football in each country of the FIFA family. When FIFA started the aged-group tournament in 1977, it was a test of skills in Tunisia.

“The essence was to discover and nurture so that at the end of the day it will serve as a feeder to the senior national teams. It was later again they introduced the U-17 championship.

“But the question you should ask yourself is do we really follow this in Nigeria? So, why are we angry? If we don’t do it the way it should be done, then you can’t get it right. We are getting what we deserve. It is like a computer, ‘garbage in and garbage out’,” he said.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr said he has made a list of players at the U-20 tournament that could make the national team for the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Rohr, who was in Niger Republic monitoring the players, stated that the players on his list could be part of the AFCON qualifiers against Seychelles and the international friendly against Egypt next month.

“I saw some very talented players. One of them will be invited to the next Super Eagles camp. Others could be invited to the U23 qualifiers against Libya at the end of March by Coach Imama (Amapakabo),” Rohr stated.


Meanwhile, Mauritania has been given the nod to host the 22nd edition of the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in 2021, following the successful hosting of the tournament in Niamey, Niger Republic won by Mali after defeating Senegal 3-2 on penalties.

The pass of torch to President of the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (FFRIM), Ahmed Yahya by President of the Nigerien Football Federation (FENIFOOT) Colonel-Major Djibrilla Hima Hamidou, signals the next hosting right for the country in the age-grade competition.

“My country will host the 22nd edition of the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in 2021. Certainly we will be organising it for the first time but we’ve known for some time now.”

“We will try to be up to the task by putting all the necessary means at the material and human level for the success of the competition.”

“I would like to congratulate Niger for the good organisation of the event by setting the bar very high and a final with so many people in the stadium for a youth competition.”

“It is a challenge for us to have in Mauritania as much people in the stadiums and to succeed a good organizer.”

“I would like to reassure you that Mauritania will do its utmost to respond to the confidence CAF has placed in our country by successfully organizing the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in 2021.”

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