Golden Eaglets Begin Historic World Cup Quest With USA Clash

By Izuchukwu Okosi:

Nigeria's U-17 national team, the Golden Eaglets, will on Saturday, 9pm Nigerian time, play against USA in their first game of the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile.

Emmanuel Amunike's cadet team are the  current holders of the U-17 title and will be hoping to successfully defend their title for the first time and win the tournament for the fifth time.

The Nigerian youngsters won the inaugural tournament in 1985 and in 1993, 2007 and 2013 but they have never successfully won back-to-back
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Amunike was one of the assistant coaches to Manu Garba in 2013 when the Eaglets triumphed in the UAE and believes the present crop can emulate the feat of the 1985, 1993, 2007 and 2013 squads.

Before the team's departure to Argentina where they prosecuted their final preparations for the tournament, Amunike told Completesportsnigeria.com that the objective is to defend the title but also producing players that will be around for many more years.

He said: "We want to win the tournament just like other countries going to Chile. The expectation is that these players will be around for a long time and graduate to become Super Eagles players in future."

Whether that expectation will come to reality will begin to emerge when the Eaglets confront USA whom they have met once at this level, in 2001 in Trinidad and Tobago. Nigeria won that contest with goals from Karimu Shuaibu and Moses Ayuba. The Eaglets went on to finish as runners-up at that year's tournament.

The Eaglets who finished fourth at the African U-17 Championship in Niger will be counting on the creativity of skipper Kelechi Nwakali in midfield and attacking threat of striker Victor Akhimen.

USA will likely parade Nigerian-born defender Matthew Olosunde but the coach Ritchie Williams' boys are not favourites for this game.
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