Nigeria’s cadet national team, Golden Eaglets’ coach, Manu Garba is placing hope in the capabilities of two kids on the cards of the youth teams of English Premier League duo, Chelsea and Bournemouth to win this year’s African U-17 Cup of Nations in Tanzania.
Heading into this weekend’s kick-off against the host country, Garba has confirmed that the Chelsea forward, Adrian Akande and Bournemouth goalkeeper, Joseph Oluwabusola are in his final list of 23 players.
The 15-year-old Akande has been included after impressing Garba and his assistants in training with the team, with the crew already planning to build their squad round him once they qualify for the World Cup.
Akande, who plays for Chelsea’s U15s and has 30 goals for the London club so far this season, recently rejected a call-up to England’s under-16 squad to the Montaigu Tournament, to remain available for the Eaglets.
On his part, Oluwabusola was part of Manu’s selection to the WAFU B qualifiers, which the Eaglets won to seal progress to the Africa U17 Cup of Nations in Tanzania.
However, despite being highly rated at Bournemouth, he would have missed the list to Tanzania 2019 had first choice goalkeeper, John Amah not failed the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.
His case was similar to that of Akande, who, despite impressing Manu in training, was still rated behind some forwards, who ended up failing the MRI tests for the championship, which begins this Sunday, 14th of April.
Four players born outside Nigeria took part in the screening exercise in Abuja, but former Barcelona Escola of Spain kid, Kelechi Ebenezer Ibe-Torti and Go Ahead Eagles of Holland lad, Lateef Omidiji Junior were not considered good enough by Manu.
On the other hand, the most valuable player at the WAFU qualifiers, Samson Tijani has been named in the final 21-man squad despite earlier concerns about his chances of scaling the mandatory MRI test.
However, ace midfielder, Tunde Akinsola, who started all four matches in the qualifying competition in Niger Republic, has been dropped after failing the MRI test.
Also axed due to MRI failure is top keeper, John Ikedinachukwu Amah, full backs Muhammed Ibrahim and Babatunde Akinsola Jimoh as well as left footed midfielder, Hassan Hussein and top striker, Favor Akeem.
Manu and his assistants will now focus on the remaining players, some of whom were initially either second choice and third ranking, due to the ejected lot, as he gets set for the flight to Dar-Es-Salaam this week.