Nigeria U17 – World Cup 2015 Champions – How They Did It

No Comments » November 9th, 2015 posted by // Categories: Sports

Although stoic on the sidelines throughout the U17 World Cup tournament in Chile over the past several weeks, head coach Emmanuel Amunike always had a plan — and his boys executed it to defend their World Cup title.

Nigeria's U-17 Eaglets, and World Cup Champions, celebrate with their coach, Emmanuel Amunike

Nigeria’s U17 Eaglets, and World Cup Champions, celebrate with their coach, Emmanuel Amunike

Nigeria’s game was built on a Van Gaal-style domination of possession. No surprise, as Amunike played for Barcelona for three years under the Dutchman in 1997-2000.

The system worked well in their opening two games, but the trouble with such a system is its vulnerability to skilled opponents who come out of the blocks with a high press and quick start.

That was exactly what happened when Nigeria came unstuck against Croatia. The Europeans employed almost the exact same tactics Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal used to eviscerate Manchester United 3-0 in half an hour back in October: a blazing start, high-tempo pressing and lethal finishing. By the time the Nigerians got back in the game, the Croatians only had to hold on for the win.

Execution was not always perfect, but at those times, panic did not set in.

Brazil and Mali, after failing to take their early chances, both tired after their exertions and some back-breaking Nigeria goals.

That is where Amunike deserves credit. He did not panic or change tactics, but rather tweaked his team to tighten things up at the back and made sure his players stayed organised and true to the plan. With such a deadly forward line, and special players like Osimhen, Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze, he could afford to. It paid off.

Celebrations at the podium

Proud of the U17 Eaglets — they have now extended their record number of U17 World Cup Championships from four to five.  The question, of course, will remain — can these successes at the youth level be successfully translated and sustained at the senior level?  Only time may ultimately tell, but for now — celebrations are in order.

Read More: Nigeria U17 find World Cup success in Van Gaal style – ESPN FC.


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