Nigeria’s U17 team fell 8-1 to England in the first game of the Four-Nation Suwon Tournament on Wednesday. While the result is shocking, it was expected and these are the reasons why it may portend good for the Eaglets.
The Suwon Tournament is an U19 event, but since Nigeria currently has no U19 team, the U17 team were sent to play. This means that on paper, the lads faced bigger and better opponents. Some of the lads they played against, like Josh Onomah of Tottenham Hotspurs, are vastly more experienced!
The cold kicked them silly before the game. It was a cold day I South Korea, and the Eaglets suffered. It didn’t help that the team reportedly wore short sleeves, even in that weather. Most of these lads have never been that cold before!
Travel arrangements were poor…as usual. The Eaglets arrived Seoul less than 24 hours before the game. Journey to Asia is between 18 and 24 hours, depending on your route. The tiredness of the long haul, plus the cold, would have been a factor.
Finally, the last U23 team were also demolished 6-2 by Denmark, before going on to claim Olympic Bronze. The result will ‘humble’ the team, and ginger them to work harder. After all, we learn more from defeat than we do from victory.
The U17 team still have two matches to play, against Iran on Thursday and hosts South Korea on Saturday. They would have adjusted better and should post better results.