FIFA U-17 W/Cup: Giant-killers Niger Square Up Against North Korea
Debutants Niger would look to continue their giant-killing run from the continental qualifying event when they take on a defensive North Korea in their opening Group D match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Saturday in India.
Niger have never previously appeared at a FIFA competition at any level. When they walk out tomorrow at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here, they will join India and New Caledonia as the three debutants of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The first-timers from Africa are no pushovers and they would be looking to cause a few upsets as former champions Nigeria have found out in the continental qualifiers. The shock 1-0 win by Niger in a group match in Gabon in the African qualifiers sent the five-time FIFA U-17 World Cup champions Nigeria crashing out of the India event.
They went on to reach the semifinals to book a berth in this FIFA U-17 World Cup edition. Niger were beaten 5-6 on penalties by Ghana after a goalless semi-final and then went down 1-3 to Guinea in the match for third place, though they had already achieved their lofty objective by then.
Niger coach Soumaila Tiemogo is hoping that his side makes the same kind of impact against North Korea in Saturday’s game which could be the ideal start in a group which has title contenders Brazil and Spain.
“I can’t guarantee that we’ll go on and win the competition but I can guarantee that we’ll make people talk about us, just like we did in Africa. Maybe we can’t work miracles, but we can do our best,” Tiemogo said before the tournament.