Golden Eaglets will file out against their Hungarian counterparts in the opening Group B match of the 2019 FIFA U1-7 World Cup in Brazil at the Goiana Estadio Olimpico tonight (Saturday) with Ben Iroha – a former Nigeria
international, telling Completesports.com he’s confident Nigeria will win.
This is the second time both teams would meet each other in the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals with the Golden Eaglets triumphing 3-1 in the 1985 inaugural edition in China.
Ahead of tonight’s clash which will kick off at 9pm Nigerian time, Iroha speaks to Completesports.com from his base in Texas, United States of America, saying Nigeria has never come short of rhe talents needed at this level to shut out opponents, and he doesn’t expect that to change now.
“Nigeria up against Hungary in the U17 World Cup, that would be an interesting game indeed,” starts Iroha who also won the U-17 World Cup for Nigeria as an assistant coach in 2007 in Korea.
“34 years, if I’m not mistaken, and we are up against them again. I know 34 years is quite a long time for things to change.
“There are no more minnows in global football any more. But thing that gives me joy is that Nigeria has always been blessed with abundant talents especially at the youth level.
“The problem has always been progression or transition to the senior level. We produce the young players, but do we harness them well enough for the senior team? That’s where we have problem.
“However, even though I didn’t watch the current Golden Eaglets games during the qualifying stages and their general buildup for the championship, but with the tradition of Nigeria having strong production chain of talented youth players and team, as well as coach Manu Garba being in charge, I have no doubt Eaglets would win,” Iroha said with firm optimism.
Iroha, 49, won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles. He also featured in Nigeria’s maiden FIFA World Cup finals appearance same year in USA and later assisted Yemi Tella (now late) to scoop the U-17 World Cup in 2007.
He reckons that the pendulum of victory in tonight’s clash is dangling Nigeria’s way, but warns the team should not expect win on a plater of gold.
Iroha continues: “Every team that qualified for the World Cup did so on merit and so deserves respect.
“Manu Garba is an experienced coach, I’ve worked with him. But it is important he drums it into his players that winning the opening game in a tournament like this is important.
“So, the players should be prepared for a tough game, Hungary also want to win, they are not in Brazil for sightseeing.
“Yes, it’s gonna be tough, but victory will give them confidence going into the other games.
“Would the Eaglets possibly win a sixth FIFA U17 World Cup this time? I don’t know yet, but ask me after the group games, after I would have watched them closely in the group games, then I would be able to say yes, or no,” Iroha concludes.
By Sab Osuji