Nigeria’s national Under-17 football team; the Golden Eaglets will on Monday face Burkina Faso in their opening game of the 2019 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations qualifying tournament in Niger, a day after two key members of the team were disqualified after failing the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test.
Drawn in Group B of the West African Zone B qualifiers, Nigeria will face the junior Etalons at the Stade Municipal in Niamey on Monday afternoon. The group is now left with Coted’voire and Monday’s foes, after the fourth team; Benin Republic were disqualified on Sunday when ten (10) of their twenty (20) registered players failed the MRI test.
All teams in Group B were hit with one disqualification or the other with Nigeria, coached by Manu Garba – who led the team to the World Championship in 2013 – losing two of their key players.
Sanni Abacha Suleiman and Saviour Johnson Isaac were the two players disqualified for Nigeria while one Burkinabe, Bazzie Joffrey Nou was also disqualified. Coted’voire also had two of their Young Elephants sent out from the tournament.
With Benin’s disqualification, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Coted’voire will now slug it out for the two available semifinal spots in the group. Nigeria’s second group game (after Monday’s clash with Burkina Faso) will be against Coted’voire at the same venue on Thursday.
The tournament’s opening game was decided on Sunday with ten-man hosts, Niger Republic holding Togo to a 0-0 draw. The Young Menas will face Ghana on Wednesday in their final group game. Ghana’s Black Starlets are the only team in Niger whose twenty registered players all passed the MRI test.
Only the winner of the Niger tournament will progress to the 2019 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations to be hosted by Tanzania in May next year.