By: Gyang Dakwo
Nigeria’s Under 17 coach Nduka Ugbade says winning their opening match at the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is a huge psychological boost for his boys, and says it sets them up nicely for the rest of the tournament.
The Golden Eaglets won 1-0 against Zambia in Constantine on Sunday, to start their Group B campaign on a high.
“Most of the time, for the young teams, the most important thing is psychology. Not physicality, tactics, or anything. Winning the first game gives us a mental edge and psychologically, we are better than we started,” said the tactician.
He admitted Zambia gave them a good run for their money, but said his side did the best they could to earn a win.
“African football has really developed and all teams are strong now, especially in Youth football. We played a very tough game against Zambia and anyone could have won. Of course, there were some mistakes and you will definitely have many of them at this stage of development,” noted the former Nigerian international.
“We created lots of chances that we couldn’t finish, some passes were not correct, and many more errors. But the good thing is that we keep improving.”
He says the motivation for them is to quench a 16-year wait for the title, and battle to be crowned champions for the third time.
“Of course, we have the targets to win, but we need to go a step at a time. We focus on the next match and if we win we are in the quarters. We get to the quarters we win and we are in the World Cup,” he concluded.