Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) first vice-president, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi has disclosed that the cadet national team, Golden Eaglets’ coaches and players will not be under pressure to win this year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil, as he says it is a developmental competition.
While Nigerians would love to see their teams will all events in which they compete, Akinwunmi stressed that, considering that the Eaglets have won the competition a record extending five times already, they are not compelled to win Brazil 2019, but says the NFF want the team to show good potentials for the future.
However, Akinwunmi added in his position as NFF’s acting president that the soccer governing body want to ensure the Eaglets get the best of preparations for the 2019 Cadet Mundial, which holds from 26th October to 17th November, and charged the coach, Manu Garba to focus on the federation’s youth development policy and programme.
Akinwunmi, who is also chairman of NFF Football Committee as well as Lagos State Football Association, further declared during a visit to the Eaglets’ training session at FIFA Goal Project in Abuja, that the U17 World Cup should not been seen as a platform to win at all cost.
He stressed that the Cadet Mundial is an avenue to ensure that Nigeria continues being a hub of football talents in Africa and maintains its style of discovering hidden future stars that abound in the country, then go on to nurture them through the NFF’s developmental policy.
Akinwunmi added: “The technical crew has nothing to prove to anybody. The FIFA U17 World Cup is a developmental programme and Nigeria has shown that she has the ability to win the tournament at the world stage.
“We have won it five times previously. But what we want is a little extra and probably even more important is the development of the players.
“It is to build a system whereby, getting into the national U17 team, you have to go through a pathway, you don’t go through a short cut.
“There are so many players in the country that don’t have the means to be in Abuja, yet they are very good, but they can play in their States and in their zones.
“If they are discovered to be very good, then they can come to Abuja. The fact that some players have the means to enter a bus or plane to come to Abuja and do screening should not give them advantage.
“I’ve explained this position to the technical crew and we are aligned because it is a policy of the board, that is the way we want to go as a Federation.
“I’m very happy and I can see the future Super Eagles, the U13s and the U15s that have improved in their game and grown in their ability to interact socially and these are the things we want.
“Not all of them who are of age will get into the team because we have some players that featured in Tanzania, but we are glad that there are some that are already competing for shirts and this is what we want.
“We want the system of youth development to grow. We don’t want people to be sending players to the national team from all nooks and crannies. We want a system where the best will emerge at the top.”