Emmanuel Amuneke, Golden Eaglets Head Coach, has predicted there won’t be any easy match at next year’s CAN Under-17 Championship to be hosted in Niger between February 15 and March 1, 2015.
Speaking ahead of the competition draws to be held at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt on Sunday, Amuneke said the groups would be evenly balanced with the calibre of teams that have qualified for what would be the 16th edition of the continental cadet championship.
The eight qualifiers include defending champions, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger (hosts), Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, South Africa, Zambia and 2013 runner-up, Nigeria and they would be drawn into two halves of four teams each.
“We can’t begin to say this is the team that we want in our group in Niger and whatever we get would depend on the luck of the draw,” Amuneke, the former Barcelona winger said. “I have taken a closer look at the list of the teams that are going to Niger and I think we have a strong pool of eight teams from the continent.
“Most of the teams are from West Africa which is a very strong zone at age-grade competitions and it is interesting that there is no team from the North Africa whereas we had Morocco and Tunisia as semi-finalists in 2013,” he added.
He further reiterated that his primary objective in Niger was to qualify the Golden Eaglets for next year’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup to be hosted in Chile.
“We know what to expect in Niger and our objective remains the same;we have to reach the semi-finals to secure one of the four tickets for the World Cup in Chile,” he noted. “I’m waiting to see the teams that we are going to get from the draws on Sunday and that would also give us an idea of what to do.”
Meanwhile, screening of new players continues at the NFF/FIFA Goal Project in Abuja and the former African Footballer of the Year remains upbeat that the process would throw up new talents to fortify the squad for Niger 2015.