Nigeria
© AFP

The past
Nigeria lead the way in the FIFA U-17 World Cup ranking, having won the tournament three times (1985, 1993, 2007) and finished runners-up three times (1987, 2001, 2009). The FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 will be the 10th time that the Golden Eaglet's have appeared on the global stage. The only time that the west African country failed to advance from the group phase was in 2003, when they finished with the same points and goal difference as Costa Rica, but lost out on a place in the knock-out phase after the drawing of lots. They managed to reach the final in their last two appearances, winning once and losing to Switzerland in the tournament they hosted in 2009, but failed to qualify for the 2011 edition.
 
The present
As three-time champions, expectations are always huge in the west African country and losing the final at the CAF U-17 Championships in Morocco earlier this year came as a huge disappointment, even if the defeat was in a penalty shoot-out. Unlike many of the other countries playing at the competition, coach Manu Garba picked a squad of entirely home-based players. After three of the players from Garba's squad were declared ineligible, the coach had just 18 players available for the duration of the competition. As a result there will be at least three new players in the World Cup squad.
 
The future
The Golden Eaglets scored an astonishing 18 goals in their five matches in Morocco, with Success Isaac bagging seven of those and Kelechi Iheanacho getting two less. The two strikers, who play for Megapp Academy in Benin City and Taye Academy in Owerri respectively, are hoping to take their Moroccan form with them to the UAE. Garba has said that the door remains open for new players to make the World Cup squad. "We are going to fortify the team despite the fact that some of these players secured us the ticket to the World Cup and we are going to look for quality replacements before going for the World Cup in the UAE," he said, adding that the team will benefit from their experience gained in Morocco. "We now look forward to the World Cup where the stakes are higher."