Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets will square up against Australia in the Round of 16 for the Quarter-finals berth in the ongoing FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile. The Nigeria-Australia tie will be played on Wednesday, (early hours of Thursday in Nigeria) at the Estadio Sausalito in Vina Del Mar.
The Eaglets finished tops in Group A while Australia finished third in Group D behind Mexico and Germany (group of death) after losing 4-1 to Germany, drawing goalless with Mexico and edging out Argentina 2-1. Despite their lesser rating in the cadet world championship than their Nigerian opponents, the Aussies are a tricky side and have caused one of the biggest upsets in the so far by beating former champions Argentina in the group stage. Golden Eaglets Head Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke has admitted that Australia may be a hard nut to crack for his boys and that they are approaching the tie with all seriousness. “At this stage, everybody that has qualified must be respected,” explained Amuneke. They (Australia) are a very good side because we saw their match against Argentina; they are a very good side and we have to respect them,” Amuneke said.
While Nigeria have not lost a second round match in the championship’s history, Australia were beaten 4-0 by Uzbekistan in their last Round of 16 appearance at Mexico 2011. Yet, Amuneke insisted the Golden Eaglets must be at their best as Chile 2015 enters the knockout stages. “We have to keep working hard and prepare our players physically and psychologically for the match (against Australia) especially after losing our last group match to Croatia. We have to let the players realize that the stage we are in now is crucial and it needs high level of concentration from them. “It is a welcome development (Eaglets versus Australia) and before Wednesday, we would evaluate our players and see their state of mind
but hopefully, all of them would be ready to play on Wednesday,” Amuneke assured.
The Eaglets have, in the meantime, been training in Vina del Mar since arriving there on Saturday ahead of their date against the Aussies.
By Olisemeka Obeche