x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Nigeria have the ‘courage’ to beat Sweden

Nigeria high on confidence and look to underline their tournament credentials on Monday night.

Nigeria shocked Mexico 6-1. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images
Nigeria shocked Mexico 6-1. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Nigeria are confident they can validate their tag as one of the favourites for the Under 17 World Cup with a second successive Group F victory.

The west Africans face Sweden on Tuesday night at Al Ain’s Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, having opened the tournament on Saturday with an emphatic 6-1 triumph against Mexico, the reigning world champions.

Kelechi Iheanacho was the standout performer in the rout, scoring four goals to consign the Mexicans to a first defeat in this competition in nine matches.

With morale sky high, the young striker believes the team, under the guidance of coach Manu Garba, can underline their tournament credentials again this evening.

“Sure, it’s a big win in our first game,” Iheanacho said. “We have to have courage now and determination to keep going, to go all the way. The coach gives us the freedom to be ourselves, which is the reason why we look so comfortable out there. He’s the boss and if we’re smart, we’ll listen to what he says, because he knows what he’s talking about.”

Sweden, though, will provide stiff opposition as they come into the encounter full of confidence following Saturday’s 4-1 victory against Iraq.

However, captain Elias Andersson, who recorded assists on two of his side’s four goals, said: “We’re not getting carried away with our start, because Iraq were a very good team, so there’s still a lot of work we need to do to get better and get out of the group.

“We’ll just keep trying to get better with every game and keep enjoying ourselves.”

In Group E, Argentina will look to respond to a disappointing start by defeating Austria in Dubai. The two-time U17 champions could manage only a draw against a 10-man Iran side on Saturday, while Austria took a point from their clash with Canada. The pair meet at the Rashid Stadium directly after Iran and Canada seek to steal a march at the top of the group.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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