ENITAN OBADINA / AIPS —– Issa Hayatou has congratulated Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets after winning the FIFA Under-17 World Cup for a record fourth time.
Nigeria defeated Mexico 3-0 in Abu Dhabi and carried off various other awards to add a further achievement to a year in which the senior national team won the African Nations Cup and raced to the brink of a place in next year’s World Cup finals.
Hayatou, the president of the African Football Confederation who attended the final in the United Arab Emirates, said: “On behalf of the CAF Executive Committee and the African football family, I congratulate you on winning the title at the just ended FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE. You have made the whole of Africa proud.”
Dele Alampasu was judged the best goalkeeper of the tournament while star forward Kelechi Iheanacho picked up the Golden Ball award for the top player at the tournament and was runner-up in the scoring charts. Nigeria also collected the Fair Play prize.
Coach Manu Garba described tournament victory as “one of my greatest achievements in life.”
He added: “When we won in Korea 2007, I was the assistant coach but this time around am the overall boss and the World Cup is the ultimate in football.
“Haven’t said that I so much believe in this young talent because by the time I went round to pick them in their various academies I knew the kind of players I needed for this assignment
“Above all we had to make sure that we started by upgrading their technical level because if you polish the fundamentals of a players all other things become secondary.”
Garba praised his young players’ discipline and the work of his backroom staff.
He said: “I think we had a united front because they say if the head is not united it affects the body. I believe our coaching crew have been a very wonderful family and I have nothing but to keep on praising God for giving us this victory.”
The Golden Eaglets also surpassed Germany’s record of most goals scored in a single edition of an U-17 World Cup. They totalled 26 in their seven games.