… Muinjo in Abu Dhabi to lend helping hand
WINDHOEK – With toddlers being separated from boys going into the knockout stages of the FIFA under 17 World Cup finals, underway in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – the chance to watch the world’s best young footballers in action could not be more attractive with free entrance to matches.
Admission to all matches in the youth tourney, which concludes on November 8 is free, and this initiative has attracted large crowds in some of the venues as thousands of fans took advantage of the opportunity on Friday to watch Nigeria clash with Iraq at the Dubai Rashid Stadium.
The Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, pointed out that the youth tourney in the UAE has the ultimate priority to engage the next generation of football stars to celebrate the sport and witness tomorrow’s legends.
Interestingly, dozens of scouts from various clubs around the world have descended on Dubai, as they seek to unearth raw talent and get players to sign contracts as early as possible. Namibia’s football supremo John Muinjo, a member of the organizing committee, is in Dubai and this is how he sums up the situation.
“Surprisingly, I came across a few Namibians who work at hotels and the Ferarri Formula race track here in Abu Dhabi, which was a great experience but similarly a great chance to learn about key parts of local culture was to note that Camel ‘kapana’ makes out a much sought after delicacy, not a culture shock though, a way of life I should say.”
So far, Africa’s four representatives Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Ivory Coast have all qualified for the Round of 16 stage that will see Ivory Coast and Morocco up against each other in an all African affair.
Perennial underachievers when it comes to major competitions, Ivory Coast will be eager to finally live up to their pre-tournament billing while their North African opponents Morocco will heavily rely on their throng of support in Fujairah in today’s action.
The tournament’s surprise package, both Japan and Sweden clash with perhaps the latter ruing the last-16 draw the most. Japan have been a marvel to watch with
a game built on crisp, incisive passing that carried them to three victories while the Swedes have also impressed as they thumped Iraq 4-1 before holding Nigeria in a 6-goal thriller.
Russia arrived at the youth tourney as European champions and opened their assault with a comprehensive thrashing of Venezuela in their last Group D
assignment but will now face arguably the competition’s finest side and three-time U17 world champions, Brazil.
The Brazilians appear to be serious contenders for an unprecedented 4th world title, scoring 15 goals in just 3 matches.
If the Brazilians are deemed favourites, Nigeria could be their biggest threat to their aspirations. The Africans thrashed Mexico 6-1 in their opening match and
continued to rattle the opposition’s net freely with eight goals in their subsequent two matches. In contrast, Iran whom Nigeria confront in their next assignment could only find the net on three occasions.
By Staff Reporter