Former International, Dahiru Sadi, has said the Flying Eagles fulfilled the country’s target at the just-concluded Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) U-20 Cup of Nations (AFCON) competition held in Egypt.

Nigeria qualified for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia by defeating Uganda by a lone goal in the quarterfinal. Africa’s most successful country in the competition later went on to claim the bronze medal after walloping Tunisia 4-0 in the third place match at the AFCON.

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Sadi said the U-20 AFCON was a platform to breed new players that will go on to become the next generation of stars in their respective countries.

“In my evaluation, the purpose of the tournament was achieved by the boys, which is to participate at the continental level and qualify for the world stage. Now, the boys have got the opportunity to showcase their talents to the world when the competition begins.”

“It is a good thing that we qualified for the FIFA U-20 tournament because the aim was not just to take part in the CAF AFCON and win the title, but to compete first at the continental level and then qualify for the World Cup. Any other thing that happens afterwards is a bonus. I am happy that they qualified for the U-20 World Cup,” he said.

The former youth international, who was part of the team that qualified Nigeria for their first World Cup in the U-20 level in 1983, added: “As for the World Cup proper, I think the coaching crew should know the areas in the team they are deficient. They have enough time to do so before the start of the competition because this is where the next Super Eagles may come out.

“I was among the first set of players that qualified Nigeria for its first World Cup in the U-20 competition in 1983. At that time, we gained so many people’s attention that even the military head of state recognised us.

“Back then, it was through the U-20 competition that you had opportunity to play for the senior national team once you graduate. But my major concern now is the age cheating where players now think they have to reduce it for them to record breakthrough in football.

“I remember back then that I and some players had to increase our ages to be part of the U-20 team because coaches, who found us good enough wanted us to be in the team. This is unlike now when players would desperately reduce their ages to be in U-20 team,” he said.
Sadi, a former member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Technical Committee, added, “I will advise the NFF and the coaching crew to ensure that we go to the World Cup with the right age for the future of our football.

“It is only when we do the right thing that we can be said to be developing players for the future. We should desist from always wanting to win age-grade competitions and hope that will build up formidable Eagles that will make us proud in the nearest future,” he stated.

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