After uncovering gems in Awoniyi, Iheanacho, Chrisantus, coach Manu Garba sets new Golden Eaglets target

Coach Manu Garba is confident he can produce the young talents to help Nigeria overcome all African opposition and qualify for the FIFA U17 World Cup, reports.

Nigeria, the nation with the most titles at the U17 World Cup, missed the 2023 edition in Indonesia.

As a result, the NFF disbanded the Golden Eaglets coaching crew under Nduka Ugbade and reappointed Garba as the team’s head coach.

It is the third time the 58-year-old gaffer is handling the nation’s cadet team, memorably leading them to win the 2013 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

He was also assistant to coach Yemi Tella when the Golden Eaglets won Nigeria’s third world title in 2007 in South Korea.

While many would want fresh hands to nurture the Eaglets, Garba believes his keen eyes for identifying future talents make him the best man for the job.

“I produce the likes of Sunday Mba, Rabiu Ibrahim, King Osanga, Chrisantus Macauley was the highest goalscorer at AFCON 2007, and the World Cup in South Korea he was the top scorer, and Lukman Haruna, who played for the Super Eagles,” the former El-Kanemi star told Totori News.

“The likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Success Isaac, Musa Yahaya, Musa Muhammed, Taiwo Awoniyi, and a lot of others.”

The first hurdle before coach Garba is overcoming a limited time frame to get the Golden Eaglets ready for the WAFU U17 Championship that gets underway in Ghana next month.

That tournament will serve as the qualifiers for the U17 Africa Cup of Nations, which operates as the qualifying campaign for the U17 World Cup.

Garba is not fazed by the time limitations, however, as he insists he will put together a team ready to beat all comers to make it to Qatar 2025.

“Despite the short period to the WAFU tournament, I am very optimistic that we will raise a good team that will qualify for the AFCON. Because that is our primary assignment for now,” Garba said.

“But most importantly, the present Golden Eaglets team that we will produce, most of them will grow not only to the U20 and the Super Eagles but they will make it in their life. This is most important.

“The under-17 is a development program, and by such we expect all the players to develop to the highest level.

“And I believe some of these players we are presenting are likely to rise to that level.

“We have a few time to scout for players. This might not be the players that will play all through the AFCON and the World Cup.
As we play friendly matches, the likelihood that we will see a better player than we have in camp. We will tell such people to go and do MRI and fight for places.

“I’ve done that several times with the likes of Taiwo Awoniyi and co, who were not part of the screening, and look at what Taiwo is now playing for one of the toughest clubs, Nottingham Forest.”

Coach Garba added that he is working with the Nigeria Football Federation and other key stakeholders to get the Golden Eaglets camp open on April 17.

“I have just submitted the list of 51 players that will open the camp hopefully this Wednesday (April 17),” he continued

“I have scouted most of those players, and some lists were given to me by some stakeholders.

“But I believe the majority of the players I have scouted on my own, I have mandated them to even do MRI before they come to camp.”

Nigeria are the defending champion at the WAFU U17 Championship.

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