The Africans have never lost a semi-final game at the Fifa U17 World Cup, and must dismiss Mario Arteaga’s boys to face Mali or Belgium in the final
Nigeria have staggered many people’s expectations by the reaching the last four with the youngest squad to Chile 2015. Their dependence on a large number of players who failed to glitter at the African U17 Championship was thought to be a weakness; the impact of some of their star names has really been a real asset in their run to the semi-finals.
Mexico and Nigeria have thrice before at the U17 World Cup with El Tri’s only victory a 1-0 win against the Golden Eaglets in Canada 1987 with Carlos Rivera getting the lone strike at Jeux Canada Games Stadium, Saint John.
Having stunned many with his breathe taking saves in the competition, Emmanuel Amuneke will hand first-choice goalkeeper Akpan Udoh the gloves once more against Mexico in what is likely to be an unchanged starting XI, except for Funsho Bamgboye who has been ruled out of this game due to card offences.
For Mexico, coach Mario Arteaga is expected to retain the same team that caged Ecuador 2-0 in the quarter final, and the Golden Eaglets must be wary of the attacking threat of Pablo López, Francisco Venegas and Claudio Zamudio.
Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen no doubt the star of Chile 2015 with eight goals from five games. With the golden boot award already in the kitty, the lanky striker will be gunning to eclipse Florent Sinama Pongolle (Trinidad and Tobago 2001) and Souleymane Coulibaly’s (Mexico 2011) record of the most goals scored by a player in a single tournament.
Unlike the defending champions, the Mexicans are yet to lose any game in Chile but are inferior to the Golden Eaglets in terms of goals scored. While Amuneke’s lads boast of a staggering 17 goals in five games, Arteaga’s side account for just 10 in same number of matches.
Defensively, they look very thick as they have let in just two goals in sharp contrast to Eaglets’ three. And the winner faces either Mali or Belgium in the final on November 8.