Indeed, the stakes are high for Thursday's contest billed for 8 p.m. at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers.
The Nigeria U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, are set for what many believe to be their most crucial game at the ongoing U-17 Africa Cup of Nations Cup in Algeria.
The team will be clashing with Burkina Faso in one of the tournament's most anticipated quarter-final match-ups and there is plenty to look forward to.
Indeed, the stakes are high for Thursday's contest billed for 8 p.m. at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers, as both teams vie not only for a semi-final berth in this competition but also for a coveted World Cup ticket.
🚨M A T C H D A Y!⚽️ Nigeria 🇳🇬 🆚 Burkina Faso 🇧🇫🗓 May 11, 2023⏱ 8:00 pm 🏟 Nelson Mandela Stadium, Algiers. 🏆 #AFCONU17#SoarGoldenEaglets | #NGABFA pic.twitter.com/Sv1znVSG3r-- The NFF 🇳🇬 (@thenff) May 11, 2023
The Golden Eaglets, who have an impressive track record of five World Cup victories and twelve qualifications, are eager to return to the global stage.
"This match will be important for us as it will qualify us for the World Cup," said Golden Eaglets' coach Nduka Ugbade. "Burkina Faso has a really good team, and we expect a challenging quarter-final, similar to the previous matches we've played against them."
Ugbade's side finished second in Group B, with matches played in Constantine, and recently relocated to Algiers, the venue for the quarter-final duel.
"My message to the players is that these competitions are usually intense, and we must play the match as it should be played. Winning qualifies us for the World Cup," added the tactician added.
Golden Eaglets' defender Emmanuel Michael further echoed this sentiment, expressing the team's readiness for the West African derby. "We have prepared well for this match, and we are ready for the tie. Our ambition is to qualify for the World Cup, and we aim to give our best to achieve this."
Like many others rooting for the Golden Eaglets, Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro has charged the young lads to go all out for victory.
The Portuguese manager, on his Twitter account on Thursday, wrote: "Wishing the Nigerian U17 team the very best of luck in their upcoming quarter-finals match against Burkina Faso. Play with determination and bring home the win!
Wishing the Nigerian U17 team the very best of luck in their upcoming quarter-finals match against Burkina Faso. Play with determination and bring home the win! #U17AFCON #GoldenEaglets pic.twitter.com/io9Ow8nZUA-- Jose Peseiro (@JosePeseiro) May 11, 2023
On the other side, Burkina Faso's head coach Brahima Traore emphasised the importance of teamwork, as his team gears up to face Nigeria.
"We go into the match calm but enthusiastic. We aim to do well and achieve World Cup qualification. However, I have insisted to the players that we must play as a team, not individually," said Traore.
The teams have a history, having faced each other in the final of the WAFU Zone B qualification tournament, where Nigeria emerged victorious with a 2-1 win. Traore expects a different, tougher matchup this time around.
"Both teams have changed, and most of the players who played then are not in the team. It will be a different match and definitely tougher," he added.
Senegal and Morocco, after resounding victories over South Africa and Algeria, are both through to the semi-final stage and also have their places at this year's U-17 World Cup confirmed.