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The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has, for the umpteenth time warned unscrupulous persons parading themselves as soccer agents from distracting the Golden Eaglets.
Scores of agents are in Morocco particularly Marrakech to pluck new cash cows but the NFF has stated unequivocally that they would not have access to the Nigerian youngsters.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we won’t allow any agent to speak to any of our players here,” Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, the Director of competitions at the NFF said.
“We didn’t allow any agent to talk to the U-20 team during the African Youth Championship, AYC in Algeria let alone allowing them access to the Eaglets.”
Minors are expected to sign professional contract in company of either their parents or guardians so that agents don’t take undue advantage hence the riot act from the NFF.
“We don’t want to see any agent around our players and I’m going to enforce this because we don’t want any distraction,” he warned.
The Golden Eaglets have comported themselves and well commended for their exemplary conduct.
“ I’m quite impressed with the conduct of the team,” said Senator Abdallah Wali, the Nigeria’s Ambassador to Morocco.” They are disciplined.”
Meanwhile, the die is cast for the Eaglets as they battle for a semi-final slot at the on-going Morocco 2013 CAF U-17 with the crunch game against Congo Brazzaville at the Grande Stade de Marrakech on Saturday. The match is fixed for 4: pm Nigerian time.
Head coach, Manu Garba (MFR) has, however, told his wards in an unmistakable manner: go and conquer Congo!
Eaglets are second on the Group B log with three points behind Cote d’Ivoire which have four. Congo and Ghana are both on one point each which makes the group delicately balanced with all the four teams having a realistic chance of getting a berth to the semis. Nigeria need an outright win to be double sure of qualification for the semi-finals and a ticket to the 2013 World Cup in the UAE-irrespective of the outcome of the other Group B match between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The two matches would be played simultaneously.
“We don’t want to start doing any mathematics or depending on the result of the other match between Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana to know if we are through ,”he said.” The players have been told what is required and by the grace of God, we need to win our game and we are through to the next stage.”
The team rounded off their training ahead of the game at the training pitch of the Grande Stade de Marrakech full of high hopes. Team captain, Musa Mohammed is upbeat about the chances of the team, saying they are wiser now after the shock 0-1 loss to Cote d’Ivoire which now leaves their qualification ticket for the 2013 Under-17 World Cup hanging in the balance.
“We are ready for business and we would as usual give more than 100 percent,” he said.”We are motivated for this match and Insha Allah, we would qualify for the World Cup.”
Congo would be without two of their players in the crucial match. Defenders Okombi Francis Bogart and Atoni Andrely have both earned two yellow cards in their two previous matches and are automatically ineligible as stipulated in the regulations guiding the CAN U-17.
Article 33.1 of the regulations guiding the tournament states inter alia: ‘For the preliminary tournament and final tournament, a player who receives two cautions shall be automatically suspended from playing the following match.’
The Nigerian team would enjoy the full complement of their players for this match since Chidiebere Nwakali and Taiwo Awoniyi had each collected a yellow card in the last game against Cote d’Ivoire.
CAF has however appointed four officials to directly oversee the crunch match. The match centre referee is Joshua Bond from Botswana. The 35-year-old has been an international referee since 2007. He would be assisted by Bouazza Rouani from Morocco and Seydou Tiama from Burkina Faso who acquired the international referee’s badge in 2007 and 2012 respectively.
The fourth official is Davies Ogenche Omweno from Kenya. The 29-year-old was appointed by FIFA in 2010. The four officials would be complemented by Egyptian, Hazeem El Hawary.
Nigeria would be in full green jerseys while Congo would be in red jerseys.