Victorious Golden Eaglets arrive amidst jubilation
Members of the victorious Nigeria U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday afternoon amidst jubilation by soccer fans, who came from far and near to receive them.
The Coach Emmanuel Amuneke-led Eaglets was crowned as the world champions after they beat Mali 2-0 in the final of the FIFA U-17 World in Chile on Sunday.
Their victory was the fifth time Nigeria has won the title after the triumph at China ’85, Japan ’93, Korea 2007 and UAE 2003.
A cultural troupe entertained just outside the arrival hall of the airport and made it possible for several airport officials, travelers and fans to take photographs with the players and officials, as Captain Kelechi Nwakali held the glittering trophy aloft all the way.
Thereafter, players and officials were driven round some areas of the Federal Capital Territory in a motorcade before the convoy arrived at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
The new Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalong, later had dinner with the players at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
The Golden Eaglets will be decamped today, to reconvene for a presidential reception at a later date.
Meanwhile, the triumphant Golden Eaglets were treated to a standing ovation aboard Emirates Airlines on their return trip to Nigeria.
Travelling on Boeing 777 Flight 248 from Santiago to Dubai, the pilot after the usual protocol over public announcement system added matter-of-factly: “We are happy to have on board members of the Nigerian U-17 National team.
The announcement was followed with loud clapping and screaming by almost 300 passengers of different nationalities aboard the big bird piloted by the duo of Captain Luciano and Captain Asredew, with two co-pilots Flying Officers, Oliver and Arif.
“It is a great feeling to be world champions,” noted Funsho Bamgboye who scored Golden Eaglets second goal in the 2-0 defeat of Mali in the Final Match on Sunday in Vina Del Mar.
“I’m happy that I have represented my country, state and family well and we can see that this has made a lot of people happy too.”
Golden Eaglets’ goalkeeper trainer, Emeka Amadi has affirmed his protege Akpan Udoh has nothing to be ashamed off despite missing the best custodian award at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Chile 2015.
Akpan was in goal throughout the tournament for Nigeria and was on top of the rack with an impressive 24 saves in seven matches but was adjudged second best to Malian Samuel Diarra by the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) for the Golden Gloves Award,
“I’m happy that Akpan played his part very well in ensuring that we won the World Cup in Chile,” began Amadi who guided Dele Alampasu to win the maiden edition of the Golden Gloves Award at UAE 2013. “It would have been nice if Akpan was picked as the best keeper but winning the World Cup is greater than any individual award.”
Amadi, who was in goal for the Flying Eagles at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Saudi Arabia 1989, said he was pleased with Akpan’s overall performance explaining the teenager has a brighter future. “The World Cup allowed us to see that Akpan is a very good keeper and he justified my judgment for picking him ahead of other goalkeepers; and I think we are going to see more of him in other levels of the national team.”
In a related development, Goalkeeper Amos Benjamin who was Golden Eaglets first choice until Akpan came into the picture has equally doffed his hat to his supposed rival.
“I want to thank God because he helped us to achieve success by winning the World Cup after we had come third or fourth in other competitions before,” stated Benjamin who was given the Best Goalkeeper Award when Golden Eaglets came third at the 2014 WAFU U-17 Tournament in Togo.