The huge weight of expectations from a whole nation will now shift to the Golden Eaglets after the shock elimination of the Flying Eagles at the U20 AFCON qualifiers in Benin.
The Flying Eagles finished bottom of Group B with a point from two matches after Cote d’Ivoire finished top on four points and Ghana were runners-up with three points.
The country’s U17s will also do battle in Benin from next month in a qualifying tournament for the 2021 U17 AFCON.
And like the Flying Eagles, the Eaglets are drawn into a three-team Group B along with – Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the same teams who edged past the Nigeria U20s in the qualifiers.
Such a small group means there is no margin for error as a loss or a draw immediately puts a team under pressure to win the next game or take the next trip back home.
The Eaglets will have to win, which the Flying Eagles failed to, for them to advance to the knockout stage of the qualifiers.
The team under Fatai Amoo are currently undergoing MRI age test with 60 players and will be expected to begin test matches as soon as they have the results from this exercise.
The authorities’ attention has been on the country’s major football brand, the Super Eagles, to the detriment and outright neglect of the developmental teams like the Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets.
That may well explain that for the previous U20 and U17 AFCONs, both the Flying Eagles and the Golden Eaglets barely made it to the World Cup as fourth best teams.
And now the big question is – Will the Golden Eaglets succeed where the Flying Eagles failed to the disappointment of many millions of fans?