Nigeria U17 side, Golden Eaglets, have been told to gird their loins for their second leg, second round AFCON qualifier against Junior Menas of Niger in Niamey this weekend.
Coach Manu Garba’s wards take a 1-0 advantage to Niamey and must record at least a draw to progress to the final round in the race towards next year’s 20th U-17 AFCON in Madagascar.
NFF Head of Psychology, Dr. Robinson Okosun has warned the players to be ready for the task ahead after they were forced to a 1-1 draw in a tune up match on Saturday by Clique Sports Football Academy of Lagos at the NFF\FIFA Goal Project Pitch in Abuja. The Eaglets went in front courtesy of a well-taken half volley by Nazifi Yahaya in the 13th minute but they eventually surrendered when Isaac Ajibolade rammed home the equalizer for Clique from the spot in the 73rd minute.
In an interactive session with Golden Eaglets at their hotel camp on Saturday’s night, Okosun, a member of the high profile American Society of Sports Psychologists, offered the players morale boosting tips for the crucial fixture against Niger. “Victory as well as defeat is easy to achieve but as good athletes, there are things you must avoid if you want to succeed starting with your match against Niger in Niamey this weekend,” explained Okosun who helped the Super Eagles to win the AFCON in 2013.
Okosun went further: “You must have the heart of a lion and be courageous; you must avoid fear and not be intimidated because experience has shown that the Nigeriens would want to intimidate you on your arrival; and before and during the match.” He later provided the players with psychological nuggets that would help them overcome the Nigeriens, advising them to create their own history as did their illustrious predecessors who won the country’s record five U-17 World Cup titles in 1985,1993,2007, 2013 and 2015.
In his own submission, NFF Assistant Director (Technical) Abdulrafiu Yusuf advised the players to justify the confidence reposed in them by the coaching crew in picking them as members of the team. “Football at the end of the day is all about scoring and winning,” stated the former Nigerian international.
“You are all good players and you must go to Niamey and ensure qualification for the next round by following the instructions of the coaches.”
Coach Garba in his closing remarks, noted that the enriching session has refocused the players, promising the Eaglets would come out unscathed in Niamey.