Former Golden Eaglets, Flying Eagles and U-23 team goalkeeper, Ambrose Vanzekin, has tipped the Golden Eaglets to come out victorious against Ivory Coast in their opening WAFU B U-17 tournament on Wednesday at the Stade de Kégué, Lome.
The Eaglets will need to get a favourable result in Group B, with the top two qualifying for the semi-finals of the competition, which serves as qualifiers for the 2021 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco in July.
Three teams, namely Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana square off in the group for spots in the last four stage.
Vanzekin, who represented Nigeria at the 2003 U-17 World Cup in Finland, is optimistic the cadet side will beat their West African counterparts.
“It’s going to be a tough game but I’m confident the boys will win the game. The group is a tough one, but a win will boost their confidence to go far,” Vanzekin told The Newsmen.
“First games are always very important for team confidence, and this is where the coach must work on. He has to remind them that their future may rely on doing well at the competition. And we should never forget the never-say-die Nigerian spirit.
“Nigeria has always had the edge over the Ivoirians at every level and the boys need to believe that they can do it.”
A win for Nigeria gives them a huge advantage of qualifying for the semi-finals of the competition. The Eaglets will face Ghana’s Black Starlets on January 9, in their final group game.
Only the winners of the competition and first runners-up will qualify for the U-19 AFCON in Morocco later in the year.
Meanwhile, Eaglets coach, Fatai Amoo, is confident his rookies can step up to the billing with bookmakers believing the five-time world champions are favourites to take the lead in a pool that has two-time world champions Ghana as the other contenders.
“We know what we are in for – it is not going to be a stroll. This is a fierce competition going by the calibre of opponents we have to battle right from the group stage. However, if we must qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, we have to conquer all on our way to get there.
“Our focus is to get a good result from the first game and then consolidating as the tournament progresses. We are here for business; we will not under-rate any team or think there is a team that is too tough to conquer. Our objective on Wednesday is the three points at stake and then we take things from there.”