The second–string Super Eagles might have been edged by Europa League champions Atletico Madrid in Uyo on Tuesday, but President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick (and indeed many who were there) saw triumph all over.
“The result is not what mattered today; what mattered was that we have been able to show the world that we have a solid youth team that is capable of taking over from the present squad, from the squad going to the World Cup next month.
“I am very happy because our big mission statement on assuming office was to build a sustainable football culture for Nigeria. From what we have seen today, our future at the senior national team level is secured. And given what we are doing at the youth level, with our U13 and U15 programs, it means that the supply chain is strong enough to sustain even the junior teams, from where the senior players will emerge.”
Players like the Nwakali brothers (Chidiebere and Kelechi) wowed the near –capacity crowd with delicate touches, and 2013 U17 World Cup –winning captain Musa Muhammed, central defensive pair of Adeleye Olamilekan and Chinedu Ajanah, former U20 star Alhassan Ibrahim and wingbacks Ebube Duru and Ikouwem Utin showed plenty of energy and promise.
Pinnick added: “We are confident that from the preparatory plan that we have put together for the Super Eagles leading to the finals in Russia, and having taken care of off-field matters that may cause distraction, the team will do Nigeria proud in Russia.
“Looking at the team that just played Atletico Madrid, it gladdens my heart to see that after Russia, we certainly have the players that will also do us proud in 2022 and even 2026.”