Former Super Eagles defender Sam Sodje has heaped plaudits on the Nigeria U-17 national team, the Golden Eaglets who recently won the regional West Africa Zone B tournament in Cape Coast.
The cadet team coached by Nduka Ugbade thus qualified for the 2023 CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria.
Nigeria defeated Burkina Faso 2-1 in the final of the competition at the Cape Coast stadium on Friday June 24.
"The victory of the Nigerian U17 football team in the just concluded tournament in Ghana did not come to me or other Nigerians as a surprise," Sodje stated.
"We have always exhibited our abilities and talents at the age grade level of football, not just in Africa but across the footballing world as shown in other previous age grade tournaments that we have participated in the African and world over.
"Our challenges has always remain our inability in transiting our abundant home based players from the age grade level to the senior National Team, the Super Eagles thus, our continue reliance on foreign based or foreign developed players.
"We have to as a matter of urgency develop a working template that will allow us to support our home based youth footballers to make a successful a transition into our senior National Team," the onetime Charlton Athletic, Brentford and West Bromwich Albion star posited.
Continuing, Sodje then tasked the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on what steps needs to be made to ensure the game is developed in the country.
"In this regard, the Federal Ministery of Youths and Sports Development in conjunction with the different States Ministries of Sports should as a matter of urgency put in place a collaborative and partnership scheme to help in the development of football youth academies across the country so as to enable the country benefit from the available talents at the youth level in the country.
"It's only by doing this that our current successes at the age grade level will translate to success at the senior National Team.
"Once again, I congratulate our young U17 football team, the Hon. Minister, Mr Sunday Dare, staff of Ministry, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) and Nigerians in general.
"I come in peace and in the spirit of sportsmanship," Sodje who is Special Assistant to the Delta State Governor on Sports & Chairman Technical Committee, Delta State Football Association (DFA) told the media.
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