By Kayode Tijani, Abuja
Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Barrister Chris Green on Monday made an unscheduled visit to the NFF\FIFA Goal Project Pitch to monitor the ongoing screening of budding players for the U-17 National Team.The NFF Executive Committee member spent over one hour watching the screening exercise and held useful discussions with officials as well as NFF assistant directors (technical), Siji Lagunju and Abdulrafiu Yusuf on the way forward for the team.
Speaking to thenff.com, Green said he was impressed with the progress made so far by the technical crew even as he called on the Coach Manu Garba-led crew to widen its dragnet beyond the on-going exercise.
“I think our preparation for the U-17 is steadily on course and I want to commend the coaches for their painstaking efforts towards building a strong team,” he said.” It is now left for them to prune down the number of players so that we can have about 60 players to undergo the compulsory MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Test.”
He continued:”What I have seen here is encouraging but I still believe there are some players that we have not been able to scout and I have advised the coaches to keep the doors open to any talented Nigerian within the age bracket irrespective of where they may be,” Green said, even as he insisted that the cadet category remains a developmental process.
“Our mandate at this level is discovery of players that would graduate to the U-20 level in the future because winning the U-17 World Cup again won’t be any news; yet our standard must be high to serve as tonic for the upcoming U-12 and U-15 National Teams,” noted the former Rivers State Commissioner for Sports.
Meanwhile, Garba hinted he was winding down on the screening of players in order to squarely face the business of moulding players already short-listed after almost one month of the exercise, adding more players would be given the opportunities since the job is ‘work in progress.’
“We have been patient enough to see thousands of players but it is about time we step up our preparations because our U-17 AFCON qualifying fixture against Niger is around the corner,” said the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup-winning coach.