LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS* in SHARJAH: Nigeria are looking serious run in their hunt for a fourth World Cup title in the U-17 finals in the UA. After the 2-0 statement against Uruguay coach Manu Garba will send his team out against Sweden but only after pondering over whether to risk star Isaac Success.
With hundreds of supporters singing and playing a variety of noisy intruments during the quarter-final Taiwo Awoniyi sent Nigeria to the semi-final with two goals and Kelechi Iheanacho helped him with two assists.
Awoniyi has been playing instead Success who suffered a hamstring injury in the group game against Sweden. A comeback is not impossible but Manu Garba appears reluctant to put him directly back in to the starting line up.
He said: “If a player is coming back from injury he has to start on the bench. Especially when the one who has went in for him is doing a good job. So if Isaac Success is able to come back he has to start on the bench.”
Asked whether he had missed Udinese’s Success, Garba said: “I would say that I miss Success because he has scored in all the matches we have played in the qualifiers and African Nations Cup. Not only has he scored but he has also assisted the other players. He is a threat for every defence”.
Nigeria will travel around 30 minutes from Sharjah to Dubai for Tuesday’s semi-final against Sweden, the only team who have taken a point off them. Garba thinks his team learned a lot from that match where Nigeria recovered from trailing 2-0 and then 3-2.
He said: ”It was good for my boys because we were two goals down and I think it will never happen again. These boys can always be better”.
Nearby, within the Sharjah Stadium, Uruguy’s players were in tears. Instead of heading fo the final as they did two years ago, they are going home without any sort of medal.
Coach Fabian Coito said: “It is logical that our players are upset, they are 17 and it is pretty normal for this age. Also we did not expect a loss, we went out to play to win.”
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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