Golden Eaglets Head Coach, Manu Garba has described his team’s 2-1 loss to Diamond Football Academy as a rude awakening ahead of next week’s second leg Africa U-17 Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger Republic in Niamey.
The Umuahia-based Academy on Wednesday at the NFF\FIFA Goal Project Pitch in Abuja came back from a first half deficit to record their first ever win against the national U-17 side. Eaglets’ Captain Abduljabar Sani scored the opener for Garba’s wards in the seventh minute but George Chukwuemeka and Ugonna Onwuamaeze struck in the 61st and 85th minutes much to the delight of Diamond Academy supporters in the crowd.
“We are happy because this is our first win against the national team,” an excited President of Diamond Academy, Prince Martin Apugo told thenff.com. “But be that as it may, it was a good match for both of us because we have both seen areas we need to improve on and this will give the national team coaches the opportunity to pluck all loopholes before travelling for the match against Niger Republic.”
Apugo went further: “Of course, we are happy that we have been able to defeat the Golden Eaglets eventually today and we hope this would serve as a tonic and motivate them to beat the Nigeriens in their upcoming African U-17 qualifier, and our prayers are with them as they head to Niamey.”
Speaking in the same vein, Coach Garba said the match was a good test for his side who must avoid a defeat in Niamey next week following last Saturday’s 1-0 win against the Junior Menas: “We have to take some positives away from the defeat to Diamond because they were forceful and they gave us stiff opposition.
“Though we lost 2-1, we were able to test some new players in different positions because we need to ascertain their fitness before picking the final team for the match against Niger. We still have work to do especially on the finishing line before the return leg in Niamey and by the grace of God, we shall come out unscathed and qualify for the next stage of the qualifying series.”
FOR THE RECORD
8-08-12: Eaglets 5-1 Diamond
9-03-13: Eaglets 5-0 Diamond
2-09-13: Eaglets 5-1 Diamond
20-06-14: Eaglets 3-0 Diamond
10-08-16: Eaglets 1-2 Diamond