Head Coach of the U15 National Team, Future Eagles, Haruna Ilerika has said the focus of the Nigeria Football Federation and the technical crew of the team is to build a formidable youth football system with the project.
“For any country, football development is the key. The advanced countries have taken youth football development serious for decades and I am happy the NFF has also embraced the youth development. We look forward to building the stars of the future from this level, it’s a laudable project and we have started reaping the gains gradually with the progression of some the boys into the recent Golden Eaglets team. Kelechi Iheanacho passed through this stage in 2010 and in 2018 he featured at the FIFA World Cup. We have set our target at grooming the boys for a positive transition and progression,” Ilerika said.
The Future Eagles are currently camping in Sagamu, Ogun State ahead of an Eight-Nation U16 Invitational Tournament in Japan next month.
“The camp has been good; the boys are responding positively. The boys understand that the moment they are in camp, they must stay focused. We are here for business. We have been building team chemistry and character and bonding has been great. I’m impressed with the boys’ improvement,” he said.
Ilerika commended the NFF/Zenith Bank U13 and U15 project for the scouting process of raw talents across the country. “The boys in camp were players discovered from the NFF/Zenith U13 and U15 Future Eagles project, the competition is played from inter-state stage. The states event produced teams for the Zonal stage, while the geo-political zones produce teams for the National event. We scouted the boys in the Future Eagles team from this tournament organized by the Federation and their sponsor. Some of these boys featured in the Africa Youth Games in Algeria last year. We also had some of them in Morocco for two friendly matches in 2017.”
The Future Eagles are expected to depart for Japan in two weeks for the invitational tournament scheduled for Sendai. “We will give the tournament a good fight, we hope to emerge as champions because if the boys start winning at this youth level, the winning mentality will be with the boys as they progress in their career and that will key into their mindset about emerging as champions at the world level.
“The tournament will be interesting for the boys, we’ll be playing against Japan, with big history in Asia, and Romania – a wonderful team from Europe. Mexico are coming from the Southern America, the country is known for fast football style of play, our boys will have this opportunity to learn and compete with players from different continents.”
The Future Eagles will play four tune-up games on Thursday and Friday against Remo Stars U15 and Ekofootball Future Stars in home-and-away format.