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Ugbade’s Golden Eaglets cautiously hunt for title number three



Nigeria aim to become the continent’s most successful team in the lowest age cadre of continental competition if they go all the way to clinch the U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Algeria 2023.

But, head coach Nduka Ugbade has urged caution from his boys.

Nigeria is one of only five countries to have won the title two times, and victory in Algeria will hoist them to three titles, making them the most successful. Ugbade knows the task ahead is not an easy one.

“It is going to be very difficult, with all due respect to all the teams which have qualified. But, we are not coming here to participate. Everyone knows Nigeria is a footballing nation and we are coming here to compete,” the tactician said.

He adds; “We are confident in our preparation and what we have done before the tournament, but we have to do everything humanly possible to win it because every team is tough and if you are not careful, you will find yourself out of the competition.”


Nigeria are drawn in a tough Group B that also includes Zambia, South Africa and Morocco, one that Ugbade regards as the tournament’s group of death.

He says making it out of this group will require heart, hard work and sacrifice, and notes he will not be surprised if a team from the group gets to the final.

“This is a very difficult group. I believe that one team from this group will get to the final, but that is just me thinking. Football is not calculated that way. There are many good teams in the tournament, and even Somalia who are making their debut can surprise,” he noted.

The former Nigerian international believes the unique characteristics in his team will sail them through.

“We are a relentless team, a team that pursues every opponent till the end of the 90 minutes. We are unique in nature in the way we play,” the coach notes.


The first target for the Golden Eagles will be qualification for the World Cup for the 13th time, a tournament they have won five times before. That will require them to get to the semi-finals.

The other target, will be to clinch the title. “We are taking a match at a time and not rushing ahead of ourselves,” the 53-year old added.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.


Bitter-sweet for Golden Eaglets, wins WAFU 3rd place but miss U17 AFCON



NFF Searches For New Coach For Golden Eaglets -

The Confederation of African Football has clarified that next year’s Africa U17 Cup of Nations will still have 12 finalists in attendance, as against the minimum of 16 teams being projected by African football enthusiasts.

This means that despite defeating host nation Ghana in Tuesday’s third-place match of the WAFU B U17 Championship, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria have not qualified for the finals.

“The final tournament will still have 12 teams,” CAF’s Director of Competitions, Samson Adamu, told

Expectations had been high among African football aficionados that the 2025 Africa U17 Cup of Nations would be expanded, following FIFA’s allocation, at its Congress in Bangkok, penultimate week, of 10 slots to the continent for the 2025 FIFA U17 World Cup that Qatar has been designated to host.

Qatar will host five consecutive FIFA U17 World Cup finals beginning next year, each having 48 teams in attendance.

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Morocco honour U17 team at sumptuous Mohammed VI Football Complex



The Moroccan team was honoured with a warm reception at the luxurious Cinema hall of the Mohammed V! Football Complex after arriving back home from Algeria, where they finished second at the  U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The team, led by their coach Said Chiba were hosted to a reception at the Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca, hosted by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation boss Fouzi Lekjaa

Morocco had a historic run in Algeria, qualifying to the final for the first time ever, but fell at the final hurdle with defeat to Senegal in last Friday’s final in Algiers.

A message from the Moroccan King was also delivered to the players, praising them for their exceptional performance as well as qualification for the World Cup.

“It is with great joy that We extend to you Our warmest congratulations for the exceptional feat you have achieved by reaching the final of the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations and ensuring your well-deserved qualification for the 2023 World Cup,” the message said.

The King further added; “These performances honor this country’s football. I am proud of the remarkable maturity and discipline, the fine performance, the great competitive spirit and the high well-established behavior of the team.”

Meanwhile, Lekjaa was delighted that investments made over the years for the development of football in the country are finally starting to bear fruit.


At the same time, head coach Chiba was delighted with the support the team received while in Algeria, saying it gave them the motivation to battle for their dreams.

He says the results in Algeria were as a result of teamwork, discipline and hard work, tenets he says were a pillar for their success. Chiba now says the team needs to build on these performances for future assignments, including the World Cup.

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Five over Five as Senegal sweep all Africa football titles



* Africa Cup of Nations 2021 – won on 6 February 2022 in Cameroon

*African Beach Soccer 2022 – won in Mozambique on 21 October 2022

*African Nations Championship – won in Algeria on 4 February 2023 in Algeria

*African U-20  Cup Nations – won in Egypt on 11 March 2023

*African U-17  Cup of Nations – won in Algeria on 19 May 2023


All the five national teams’ football titles have been won by Senegal. Apart from the Beach Soccer titles which have always been won by Senegal, their victories in the other four competitions were the first.

 This is unprecedented in the continent. The fifth title, was attained Friday night when Mamadou Sawane headed home the winning goal seven minutes from time as Senegal scored twice in four minutes to come from a goal down and beat Morocco 2-1 to clinch their first ever  U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title in a dramatic finale at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers.

Skipper Abdelhamid Ait Boudlal had given Morocco a 14th minute lead, one they kept until the 79th minute when Serigne Falou Diouf scored a VAR awarded penalty.

Sawane towered the entire defense to head home four minutes later, completing the hard-earned turnaround for the Teranga Cubs.

Senegal has now won a third consecutive continental title within four months, their team of local based players having won the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) title in February at the same venue of their conquest on Friday, while they also won the U20 AFCON title in Egypt in March.


Their senior national team began the continental dominance last February when they clinched the AFCON 2021 crown then continuing with an AFCON Beach Soccer title later in the year.

Heading into the Friday night’s duel, both teams were in unfamiliar territory, playing their first ever final, but it was Morocco who would go ahead first.

Skipper Ait Boudlal peeled away from his markers before beating the keeper to the ball to head home from an Abdel Hamid Maali corner.

It was a nerve calming goal for Said Chiba’s boys, as just 10 minutes before, the Senegalese had come close with skipper Amara Diouf having a freekick fly inches wide off target.

The game went into a full contest, with both sides battling for possession, but clear-cut chances at goal diminishing.


In the second half, Senegal started faster off the blocks, Mamadou Sadio shooting just over with only 45 seconds gone on the clock. On the other end, Morocco had a chance when Maali struck a shot from the edge of the box, but it flew wide.

Senegal’s turnaround came in the 76th minute when Moroccan skipper Ait Boudlal was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box. After visiting the pitch-side monitor, the referee awarded the penalty and Serigne tucked it home.

The goal inspired the Senegalese and they piled pressure on Morocco in the final 10 minutes of the game. Just four minutes later they had their reward when substitute Sawane stormed in to the edge of the six yard box to head home what would be the winner from a corner.

The goal punctured the entire Moroccan side, and even senior national team coach Walid Regragui who had flown in for the final, was dismayed, standing in anguish at his sitting spot in the VIP dias.

Senegal managed to see off the remaining minutes, plus six of added time, to win the title for the first time ever.

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