Abu Dhabi: Nigeria head coach Manu Garba believes his team will qualify for the semi-finals of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup ahead of his side’s last-eight match against Uruguay on Saturday.
After seeing his side beat Iran 4-1 in the round of 16 on Tuesday, Garba said: “Uruguay, like the other South American teams, play with the same style as our team and are a good side, but I am confident our team will be one of the last four teams in the tournament.
“But our big victory does not mean our team did not commit mistakes. We have to work on these mistakes because the competition is getting tougher and stronger.
“We are an attacking team. We have scored 18 goals in four matches and I don’t remember a match, friendly or official, we played and failed to score goals. But we also have to pay attention to our defence because there appeared some mistakes, which we cannot afford in the quarter-final.”
Garba was angered by the accusations of Iran coach Ali Doustimehr, who reportedly claimed some of Nigeria’s players were over-age. “I can confirm that all my players are under 17 and we have made the medical tests twice. Either the Iranian coach should prove these accusations or we will have an official strong reaction,” he said.
Doustimehr had said in the press conference that followed the match at Khalifa Stadium in Al Ain: “My experience of more than 30 years in coaching tells me that some of the Nigerian players are above the age of 17.”
But he did apparently backtrack, saying: “I cannot confirm that point of over-age, but if the Nigerian players are really under the age of 17 then they will surely have a strong team in the near future.”
About the match, Doustimehr said: “I said before that our players lack international experience and we have benefited from this tournament by playing against strong teams.”