Friday, October 23, 2015 7:43 am
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets are filing up Friday night against Croatia in the final match of Group A in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.
The defending champions have already qualified for the next stage, the Round of 16, having won their first two matches, but they are attaching great importance to the final game as well: The Eaglets want to punish Croatia.
The duo of John Lazarus and David Enogela are eyeing their pound of flesh against the Croatia U-17 team. The Eaglets lost 2-3 to Croatia at the 2015 Suwon International Youth championship staged in South Korea despite leading with few minutes to the end of the game.
Both teams meet again at the Estadio Francisco Sanchez in Coquimbo, and the duo have vowed not to repeat same mistakes against the Europeans on Friday. Croatia are second in the group with two points and may miss qualification if they lose to Nigeria and the host nation, Chile beat USA in the second group match. Chile and USA have a point each, from two previous matches.
“We were unlucky against the Croatians in Suwon because we were leading them 2-1 until few minutes to the end of the match,” Lazarus said on the NFF website.
“The Croatians got a penalty to equalise and scored the winning goal later and that stopped us from winning the tournament.
Enogela on his own part said: “We saw in Suwon how physical the Croatians can play and I agree with Lazarus that they were lucky to beat us the last time.”
Head Coach Emmanuel Amuneke said as much during Thursday’s training session at Compejo Despotivo La Alpina. “Our match on Friday(against Croatia) is a must win and we have to approach the match with all seriousness,” he said.
“We should not get carried away because we have won our first two matches against USA and Chile.”
“Don’t forget, it was Croatia that denied us the opportunity of winning the Suwon U-17 Tournament in Korea last month; so it is an opportunity for us to show them we are better than them but unlucky then.”
The Golden Eaglets would be without defensive midfielder Udochukwu Anumudu who was booked against USA and Chile as well as striker Funsho Bamgboye who saw red against Chileon Tuesday, but Amuneke said there are capable replacements.
“All of you must be ready to play and that is why we are all here,” he stressed.
“We must remain focused because the matchon Friday is very important; we thank God for success in the last two matches but the match on Friday is also very important for us.”
FIFA has appointed Colombian Wilson Lamouroux as the centre referee for the match. The 36-year-old Colombian has been an international referee since 2013 and he would be assisted by compatriots, Alexander Guzman and Wilmar Navarro.
The fourth of official is Reyna Oscar from Guatemala.