African U-17 Championship: Trophy or nothing!

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Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets have shifted focus to emerging champions after they drubbed Congo 7–0 to reach the semi-finals of the African Under-17 Championship in Morocco. Kelechi Iheanacho scored a hat trick with tournament’s leading scorer, Isaac Success grabbing a brace when the Nigerian lads pounded a nine-man Congolese team to set up a semi-final clash against Tunisia on Wednesday in Marrekech.

Coach Manu Garba saluted the courage of the players to bounce back immediately after their shock 1–0 loss to Cote d’Ivoire in their second group match, adding that the focus now is on the semi-final game against Tunisia. “We are happy that we have eventually qualified for the World Cup because that was our first priority at this championship and we thank God that we have achieved that,” said Garba, a 2007 Under-17 World Cup winner as assistant coach.

“We are happy that we eventually topped a tough group that had three strong West African teams and Congo. But we have put this victory over Congo behind us as we forge ahead for the crucial stages of the championship.” Striker, Success, who now leads the tournament’s scorer’s chart with six goals, said the team were looking forward to the game against Tunisia. “We are looking forward to the game against Tunisia on Wednesday,” he said. “The success (on Saturday) goes to the team because we are a group.

Our coaches told us how to approach the match against Congo and we thank God that we were able to follow their instructions,” he added. Hat trick hero, Iheanacho, who dedicated all his four goals at the CAF Under-17 to his late mother, Mercy, said he expects the team to now go all the way to become champions six years after the country won the competition. “We will continue to assist ourselves until we achieve our objective of winning the 2013 Under-17 trophy,” he vowed.

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