Golden Eaglets well motivated to beat Burkina Faso, says NFF

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says players and officials of the Golden Eaglets are well motivated to beat Burkina Faso in tomorrow’s semifinal of the WAFU U-17 Cup Tournament in Togo.

The coach Fatai Amoo-led Golden Eaglets sneaked into the semifinal on Tuesday evening after Group B pacesetters, Baby Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, hammered the Black Starlets of Ghana 3-1 at the city’s Stade Municipal. Nigeria will take on Burkina Faso, another youth football powerhouse, in the semi finals tomorrow at Togo’s main stadium, Stade Kegue.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, NFF president, Amaju Pinnick said that the federation had given the team all it needs to overcome the Burkina babes, adding that the players and their handlers know what is at stake.

The Golden Eaglets, who are five-time world champions, lost by the odd goal to the Ivorians on the opening day of the competition and were forced to a 1-1 draw by Ghana at the weekend. They needed a favour from the Ivorians to progress to the knockout stage, which the Baby Elephants obliged.

The winners of tomorrow’s semifinals will battle for the trophy on Wednesday at the Stade Kegue, and also qualify for the CAF U-17 Cup of Nations billed for March 13 -31 in Morocco.

Pinnick stated that the circumstances that surrounded the Golden Eaglets’ qualification to the knockout stage were enough to propel them in the match against Burkina Faso.

“I visited the players and their officials in Togo before their match against Ghana, and from what I saw, the team has what it takes to beat Burkina Faso in the semifinal and go on to win the trophy. We have done what is expected of the federation, and I am sure the players will live up to the challenge on Friday,” he stated.

The Guardian recalls that during his visit to the team’s camp at the Hotel Novella Star in Lome, Togo, last week, Pinnick charged the players to believe in themselves, and that Nigerians don’t want to know about tactics. “Just go, play and win the game. The mentality of Nigerians is winning, they don’t care how you win, just win. Winning gives Nigerians a lot of joy.”

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.