Nigeria will be seeking a record-extending sixth FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil from Saturday and SCORENIGERIA looks at five players who can make this possible in Samba land.
Jersey No 2 1.69 metres DOB: 12-05-2003
The IB Sports Dreams of Abuja star, who will be 17 in May, has bounced back from a major injury to reclaim his place at right fullback. His nickname ‘Double Engine’ has to do with his abundant stamina. At last year’s U17 AFCON zonal qualifiers in Niger, he scored a goal and provided two assists as Nigeria topped the competition. He famously made a last-minute goalline clearance in the final against Ghana to ensure the game was decided on penalties, which the Eaglets won. He is fast, good in the air, strong tackler and creates goals when he bombs forward. He could also play as central defender, defensive midfielder, right wingback or even right winger.
Jersey No 4 1.66 metres DOB: 17-05-2002
The highly-rated defensive midfielder is one of only a handful of players who featured at the zonal qualifiers as well as the U17 AFCON. He was the MVP of the zonal playoffs in Niger. He has great composure and stabilises the defence, while linking up with the attack. His biggest assets are his vision and long balls across the pitch. A lot is expected of this player who has already been linked with several top European clubs.
Francis Daniel ‘Dada’
Jersey No 14 1.68 metres DOB: 27-09-2003
Another smooth-playing defensive midfielder who is one the youngest on the final squad and a late addition to the party to Brazil. This will be his second international tournament this year after he featured at the Bayern Munich World Youth Cup in Germany. He impressed Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr during the Munich tournament. The FC Hearts of Abuja star, whose curly hair is natural and so the nickname ‘Dada’, has also attracted interest from clubs in Belgium and Spain. He has great timing and anticipation, while keeping it tight and simple at the back.
Jersey No 13 1.63 metres DOB: 07-06-2002
Stocky bulldozing midfielder or winger, who caught the eye at both the zonal qualifiers as well as the U17 AFCON in Tanzania. The pocket-sized battleship also weighs in with his fair share of goals. He is full of energy and running. He has reportedly committed to a Swedish club after he has shown class with the Golden Eaglets.
Jersey No 7 1.62 metres DOB: 23-04-2002
The team’s main striker who scored three goals in warm-up matches in Brazil in readiness for the World Cup. He is powerfully built, persistent and he can be even more prolific with better positioning and composure inside the goal area. The ABS FC star will be expected to follow in the rich lineage of strikers from Nigeria who used the U17 World Cup as stepping stone to bigger things in Europe – Macauley Chrisantus, Isaac Success, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Osimhen. For a striker who says his mantra is to win all the time, expect him to grab the headlines for his harvest of goals in the world’s most successful football country.