Nigeria have a long and proud association with the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The most successful side in the history of the tournament, the Nigerians have been crowned champions five times (in 1985, 1993, 2007, 2013 and 2015) and have lost in the final on three other occasions (in 1987, 2001 and 2009).
They also hold the record for the highest number of goals scored in a single competition (26 in 2013).
Road to Brazil
Although the Golden Eaglets assured themselves of a spot at Brazil 2019 by reaching the last four at the 2019 CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, they missed out on a top-three finish for the third time in a row after losing 2-1 to Angola in the match for third place. They will take heart from their performance at Chile 2015, however, where they lifted the trophy despite having finished fourth at the Cup of Nations a few months prior.
Manu Garba has previous experience of elite-level tournaments, having guided the Golden Eaglets to U-17 World Cup glory at UAE 2013. He enjoyed less success with Nigeria’s U-20 team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015, but he did at least manage to steer them to the knockout stages. After the U-17s failed to qualify for India 2017, Garba was called upon again in 2018, and he achieved his initial target – qualifying for Brazil 2019 – a few months later.
Did you know?
The star of the team, Adrian Akande, is one of the squad’s youngest players. Born in October 2003, the forward is also one of the few players to ply his trade in Europe, at Chelsea.
Garba’s backroom staff includes a certain Nduka Ugbade, the former Nigeria international (11 caps, one goal), who took part in the memorable “Miracle of Dammam” during the 1989 U-20 World Cup. Down 4-0 with 30 minutes of their quarter-final versus Russia left to play, the Nigerians launched a remarkable fightback that eventually saw them qualify for the semi-finals on penalties.