Black Starlets coach, Abdul Karim Zito, and his Nigerian counterpart, Manu Garba, have voiced out their displeasure at the new mode of qualification for the African U-17 Championship.
Even though the Super Eaglets qualified for next year’s Africa U-17 Championship in Tanzania after their 4-2 win on penalties over the Starlets in last Saturday’s final of the West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone B tournament in Niger, the Nigeria coach maintains that the mode of qualification for the continental tournament will be to the disadvantage of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Coach Garba told journalists at the post-match conference last Saturday that the format for the African Championship would deny the tournament of some of the best juvenile teams in Africa.
“I must say that this is not the best for CAF because West Africa is the [heartbeat] of African football, especially in youth football. Nigeria has won the World Cup five times and Ghana has won it on two occasions.
“It’s just unfortunate that Ghana, Niger and Cote d’Ivoire will not play in the African competition. CAF must change the format; I still congratulate Ghana even in defeat,” Garba noted.
For his part, Zito said, "No coach participating in the tournament is happy with the mode of qualification for the World Cup. Now, one of the best counties in terms of talents (Cote d’Ivoire) is out of this tournament and so will not be at the World Cup. CAF opted for quantity instead of quality,” he added.
The Eaglets secured a ticket to the African Championship after defeating Ghana 3-1 on penalties after regulation time ended 1-1.
The Starlets, therefore, lost the chance to play in the Africa Championship which serves as qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.