All eyes will be on the defending champions and four times tournament winners Nigeria, as they kick off their title defense against the Young Yanks, at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos Santiago on Saturday.
The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria have been zoned in Group A with hosts Chile, United States of America and Croatia as they hope to extend their dominance in the global cadet tournament by winning a fifth title.
NIG face off against USA in the opening game of the 2015 U17 World Cup
After playing some high profile opponents as part of preparations for the tournament, the Daniel Amokachi coached Eaglets are confident of coming out victorious against a young USA side, who had to beat Jamaica on penalty at the playoffs to secure a spot at the tournament.
Giving his view on the opener, football analyst, and presenter at Radio Brila, Femi Raji, reaffirmed his confidence on the Team’s chances of coming back home victorious. The former Wiki Tourist star stated that having watched the team’s preparatory games, (especially against Argentina) he is very optimistic the Eaglets will make the African continent proud.
“I saw them at the Korean tournament, and I had every reason to believe in the potentials of the team. If they keep up like that, then I think it is safe to say that we have a good chance of winning the trophy”.
Their opponents, on the other hand are no pushovers in the tournament either. Blessed with a lot of talented youngsters, Coach Richie Williams will expect his side to put up a fight against one of the tournament’s favorites.
Though they drew blank in the first leg of their last qualifier against the Young Reggae Boys of Jamaica, and only won the tie on penalties in the second leg, the former U.S international could still lead his team to a surprise win, if he plays his cards right.
The game will be a test of physical strength and tactical discipline, and though the Eaglets are the bookies favorites, the chances of an upset are not to be written off.
After scoring 4 against Guatemala, 5 against Cuba, 3 against Brazil, and 2 against Honduras in their previous matches this year, the Williams led side seems to have a lot of goals in their locker. But the ultimate test will be against a high scoring Nigerian side, who scored 13 goals in their last 7 matches, and conceded just 8.
Players to watch
Christian Pulisic (USA, and Borussia Dortmund, GER)
Regarded as the “The Next Great American Soccer Prospect” by Rob Usry back in February, the 17 year old surely is showing great signs of greatness, and perhaps why he holds such a tag. He can play in various positions upfront, with his high technique on the ball, and ability to pick out teammate, he surely a player to keep an eye on.
Kelechi Nwakali (NGA, Manchester City, ENG)
The young Nigerian midfielder made his dream move to Manchester City back in May, and have since been sent out on loan for further development at Malaga. Quick, strong, and highly creative, Nwalali is surely one to watch out for, as Nigeria clash horns with USA in the group opener.
Venue: Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos Santiago
Time: 17:00 Local time
Date: Friday 17th Oct.