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FIFA U17 World Cup-winning coach identifies what went wrong for Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets in Algeria

The five-time world champions failed to reach the last four in Algeria after suffering two defeats in four games

Former Golden Eaglets coach, Manu Garba, has attributed Nigeria’s failure to secure a ticket to this year’s FIFA U17 World Cup to overconfidence, reports. 

Garba dismissed suggestions of wholesale promotion of the current team to the Flying Eagles and instead highlighted the need to address tactical and finishing issues that affected their performance.

Under the guidance of Garba’s former assistant, Nduka Ugbade, the Golden Eaglets suffered a 2-1 defeat to Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals of the U17 AFCON in Algeria, resulting in their failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Garba emphasized that the team’s overconfidence hindered their ability to display calmness and composure in front of goal, leading to anxiety and missed opportunities.

While acknowledging the team’s physical fitness and technical abilities, Garba expressed concerns about their tactical shortcomings, particularly the struggles faced by the two center-backs in dealing with ground balls.

After observing their gameplay, he urged his colleagues to work on the team’s finishing to improve their performance.

Garba highlighted the team’s high number of chances created, even in the matches they lost against Morocco and Burkina Faso.

However, the players’ over-anxiousness and possible distractions from agents seemed to have negatively impacted their decision-making on the field, resulting in shots taken from far away from the goal.

What was said?

“The key factor was that they were over confident to beat Burkina Faso and as a result calmness and composure in front of goal was not there, there was anxiety to score, this was a major problem,” assessed Manu, who led Nigeria to win the U17 World Cup in 2007 and 2013 said.

“The team were physically fit, technically good, but tactically the team had some problems.

“I was not comfortable with the two centre-backs because they struggled with balls on the ground.

“I told my colleagues to work on the team’s finishing after I watched them play.
“We created the most chances even in the matches we lost against Morocco but they were over anxious.

“We can’t also rule out distractions from agents, so some of these boys played for themselves, they were shooting far away from goal.”

The former coach expressed immense disappointment at Nigeria’s failure to secure qualification for the U17 World Cup.

Considering Nigeria’s historic dominance in this age category, Garba had expected the team to at least secure a spot in the tournament.

As the team reflects on their performance, it becomes crucial for the coaching staff and players to address the issues of overconfidence, tactical deficiencies, and finishing.

These areas require focused attention to ensure that the Nigerian U17 team can reclaim their dominant position and excel in future competitions.

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