An explosive clash is in the offing when the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria, five-time world champions of the FIFA U 17 World Cup tackle the Netherlands, four-time European U 17 champions at the round of 16 of the FIFA U 17 tournament in Brazil.
It has been different dramatic twists for both sides in the tournament as Nigeria lost her last group game against Australia 1-2, after winning her first two games in the group, while the Netherlands, lost to Japan 3-0 and fell to Senegal 3-1, but hope came alive in their last group game with a 4-0 bashing of United States to qualify for the round of 16 as one of the third-placed teams in the tournament.
The loss of Nigeria to Australia is seen as a wake-up call in the camp of the Eaglets in Goiania. Head coach of the team, Manu Garba has assured that a more formidable team will be on display against the Netherlands on Tuesday.
“We intend to correct all the errors in the last group game. The round of 16 is a winner takes all and hopefully, the errors noticed in the previous games will not be seen against the Netherlands.” Garba told Pearl TV in Goiania.
“The team will do all it can to beat the Netherlands and qualify for the quarterfinals. It is not going to be an easy game, but victory on the side of Nigeria is possible,” he added.
Defensive frailties are the problems of both sides in the tournament. Nigeria and Netherlands have both conceded six goals in the tournament, with Nigeria more clinical with eight goals to Netherlands’ five goals scored to reach the round of 16 stage of the Brazil 2019 FIFA U 17 tournament.
Definitely, it will not be an easy game. Netherlands parades some exciting football talents in the tournament and they showed this against the United States. Sontje Hansen, an electrifying attacker scored a brace and had an assist in the whitewashing of hapless Americans and together with his teammates have shown how they can wreck any team on a good day.
But Samson Tijani, captain of the Eaglets says what is most important is not the pedigree of Netherlands as a great footballing nation, but for his teammates to play as a team, defend very well and convert the chances created in the game, adding that if these things are implemented on the pitch, the shouts of victory will be in the camp of Nigeria.
“We just have to play as a team. The Netherlands are a good side no doubt. Our focus is on the most important thing, which is to play as a compact team, defend very well and also convert the chances we will create in the game.” Tijani said.
“Once we are able to interpret the game plan of our coaches perfectly, play according to our strength and as a unit, we will definitely beat the Netherlands,” he added.
There is no denying the fact that Estadio Olimpico will witness a very explosive round of 16 crackers beginning from 8 pm Brazilian time, which is 12 midnight in Nigeria.