The 18th edition of the FIFA U-17 world cup tagged India 2017 would kick off on Friday, October 6th, 2017 but without the defending champion and the most successful country at u-17 level, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria.
Started in 1985 and hosted by China, the maiden edition was won by the Golden Eaglets with promising talents like the great Nduka Ugbade and Jonathan Akpoborie who later progressed to the Super Eagles. that was the aim of the tournament, fishing-out talents for the main team of a country.
The Golden Eaglets has since participated in 11 U-17 World Cup, playing in 8 finals, winning 5 and losing 3 of the finals, becoming the first Nation to win the tournament a record 5 times churning out talented players in the likes of Fatai Atere, Mutiu Adepoju, Nwankwo Kanu, John Obi Mikel, Kelechi Iheanacho and many others who later progressed to the Super Eagles.
It is no more news that Nigeria will be absent at India 2017. But despite that, the NFF engaged the Golden Eaglets by sending them to South Korea in 2016 for the Four Nations U-19 Suwon Continental Cup where they played against Iran's U-19, England's U-20 and South Korea's U-19 teams. But afterwards, there have been no camping, even though the NFF assured that apart from the Suwon tournament, they (NFF) would keep the boys busy this year with series of invitational tournaments and friendly matches.
The Nation's U-13 / U-15 age grade competition, which used to be the pool from which our Golden Eaglet team is selected was put on hold between 2013 and 2016 for financial reasons and restarted in 2017. The U-13 / U-15 youth development football program was initiated by the NFF in 2009 with the aim of grooming young football talents of right ages and also reduce age-cheat in Nigeria football. Eze Chidera, Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi are some of the products of the National U-13 / U-15 program that have graduated to the Golden Eaglets team of Nigeria.
The German team that won the 2017 confederations cup in Russia is made up of young and energetic players that came through the ranks. What can we do to be at that level?
You will recall that the first sets of Nigeria's Golden Eaglet were from school teams. Do we go back to the good old days where the Nucleus of the Golden Eaglet is gotten from school teams?
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