Golden Eaglets Head Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, has admitted that his team’s FIFA U-17 World Cup, Chile 2015 Round of 16 opponent, Australia, would be a hard nut to crack on Wednesday at the Estadio Sausalito in Vina Del Mar.
The Aussies showed some remarkably tenacity to advance from the tournament’s supposed group of death, Group D, where they lost 1-4 to Germany, drew goalless with Mexico and edged Argentina 2-1.
“We have been looking forward to the team we are going to play and today (Sunday), we realized it would be Australia. At this stage, everybody that has qualified must be respected,” explained Amuneke. “They (Australia) are a very good side because we saw their match against Argentina; they are a very good side and we have to respect them.”
While Nigeria has not lost a second round match in the championship’s history, Australia were beaten 4-0 by Uzbekistan in their last Round of 16 appearance at Mexico 2011.
Yet, Amuneke insisted the Golden Eaglets must be at their best as Chile 2015 enters the knockout stages.
Amuneke said: “We have to keep working hard and prepare our players physically and psychologically for the match (against Australia) especially after losing our last group match to Croatia. We have to let the players realize that the stage we are in now is crucial and it needs high level of concentration from them.
“It is a welcome development (Eaglets versus Australia) and before Wednesday, we would evaluate our players and see their state of mind but hopefully, all of them would be ready to play on Wednesday.”
The Eaglets have, in the meantime, been training in Vina del Mar since arriving there on Saturday ahead of their date against the Aussies.