Caf president, Issa Hayatou, has thrown his weight behind Nigeria’s Under-17 national team ahead of Tuesday’s semifinal with Sweden at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Hayatou visited the Nigerians on Monday in Dubai and was accompanied by CAF 1st vice president, Almamy Kabele Camara and Fifa Executive Committee member, Mohamed Raouraoua.
He commended the players for the “high level of
skill and intelligence” displayed so far at the tournament stressing that such had not been seen in an African side for a long time.
“You have displayed a high level of skill and intelligence in this tournament that we have not seen in an African team for a long time. I am not surprised at your progress here because I saw you at the CAN Under-17 Championship in Morocco and I was highly impressed,” Hayatou said.
The Caf chief then took the time to praise the Nigerian youngsters for the manner in which they dispatched South American giants, Uruguay in the quarterfinal of the competition.
. “I am particularly excited with your performance against Uruguay, despite missing a number of injured players. I believe you are already in the final.
“The African football family is fully behind you,” Hayatou said.
Nigeria have won the tournament three times previously but Hayatou stressed on the importance of the current class of Golden Eaglets to complete the quartet of successes in the UAE.
“Yes, Nigeria has won the competition three times before, but that was done by other players. Now, it is your opportunity to write your own names in gold. I believe you have the talent, intelligence and resilience to go all the way,” he said.
President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Aminu Maigari, who received the CAF president, lauded the visit and assured that the Eaglets are fully motivated to go all out against the Swedes in Tuesday’s semifinal at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai.
“It is a huge honour to have the Caf president visit any team in the middle of a tournament, because of his very tight schedule. We are assuring you that our boys are able and ready to do the African continent proud,” he said.
Nigeria and Sweden battled to a 3-3 draw in the preliminary stages of the competition.